“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” (Lk 4: 1-4)
Jesus was, indeed, “hungry.” He did, indeed, “need” something to eat. He also “could” provide bread for Himself in the wilderness, because this was within His power. Nonetheless, He rejects the devil’s enticing suggestion, to turn a stone to bread. Why?
Because it’s the devil’s suggestion. And Christ is showing us that our God-given, physical needs, as well as our God-given powers, are not to be addressed outside God, as if they had a life of their own. We are called to train and exercise our needs and capacities in a God-focused way, as God wants, and not as the devil wants. “Asceticism,” from the Greek word “ἄσκησις,” meaning “exercise, practice, training,” in which we now engage during Lent, is a way to train and direct our human needs and divine capacities toward God’s purpose and will, with His purpose and will in mind. By becoming a little more hungry and vulnerable, through fasting, we become more attentive to how and when we respond to our various hungers, both physical and spiritual.
Let me let myself be a bit hungry today, in a God-focused manner. And when I eat, let me be attentive to “receiving” my food, rather than just taking it, according to a will that is not God’s. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” (Mt 5: 6) (This reflection is from our Lenten Guidebook, heretofore available only to Patreon-subscribers, but NOW available as a digital download here at our website's Gift Shop!)