Our great temptation
The scene of “Jesus’ temptations” is an account that we should not interpret lightly. The temptations that are described to us are not properly of the moral order. The account is warning us that we can ruin our lives if we stray from the path that Jesus follows.
The first temptation is decisively important, for it can debase and corrupt our life at its root. Apparently Jesus is being offered something innocent and good: put God at the service of his hunger. “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
Jesus, however, reacts quickly and surprisingly: “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” One’s bread shall not make one’s bread into into an absolute. One shall not place God at the service of one’s own interest, forgetting the Father’s project. You shall always seek God’s kingdom first and his justice. At every moment one shall listen to God’s Word.
Our needs do not get satisfied only with our having bread assured us. Human beings need and yearn for much more. In order to rescue from hunger and misery those who do not have bread, we also need to listen to God our Father, and awaken in our conscience hunger for justice, compassion, solidarity.
Our great temptation today is to change everything into bread. To reduce more and more the horizon of our lives to mere satisfaction of our desires; to turn our obsession for a greater well-being, or our indiscriminate and unfettered consumerism, into our one and only ideal.
We fool ourselves if we think that this is the path to follow toward progress and liberation. Do we not see that a society that drags people into a consumerism without limits and into self-complacency does nothing but give rise to emptiness and meaninglessness in people and to selfishness, alienation and irresponsibility in the community?
Why do we cringe that the number of people who commit suicide keeps growing tragically more and more every day? Why do we keep shutting ourselves up in our false well-being, erecting barriers that are increasingly more inhuman lest the hungry enter our countries, get into our neighborhoods or knock on our door?
Jesus’ call can help us to be more aware that human beings do not live on well-being alone. Human beings also need to nurture the spirit, know love and friendship, develop solidarity with those who suffer, listen responsibly to their conscience, to be open to the ultimate Mystery of a life with hope.
José Antonio Pagola
March 9, 2014
1 Lent (A)
Matthew 4, 1-11