(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Mass-Blog-for-the-1st-Sunday-in-Lent-2022.mp3)
As we enter Lent, we are called to reexamine our diets—maybe by cutting down or eliminating empty calories. But there’s one food for which we are invited to be gluttons. The word of God is sustenance with many calories to keep us going through the leanest times. Those calories are calculated in truth.
As Sunday’s gospel reading tells us (Lk 4:1-13), Satan tried emptying the truth from the word of God on which Jesus was feasting in the desert. He even tried tempting Jesus to misuse the tools his Father gave him to accomplish his earthly mission.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, one does not live on bread alone.”
The Evil One is obviously familiar with God’s word—a delicacy he gave up long before this meeting with the second Adam in the desert. And again, he tried using his adulterated rehash of it to poison Jesus, just as he did successfully to the first Adam:
If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
But as Jesus realizes, Satan’s earthbound soul can’t metabolize the truth in the psalmist’s inspired words (Psalm 91). And therefore, Jesus teaches us to let our hearts digest them so joy will sustain us beyond our time on this earth and into his Father’s Kingdom.
Easy words for me to write, right? But starving children in the world’s poorest nations have found the strength to smile in gratitude for this rich faith they’ve been fed. Benedictine Monk Brother David Steindl-Rast explains how in his book, “Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer.” He tells of a trip to Enugu, Africa, where he says he saw groups of children gathered on street corners to pray the rosary.
“Nowhere have I seen more radiant joy in children’s eyes than in the former Biafra. … Then it dawned on me that the joy I observed plays on a deep knowledge of suffering as sunrays play on the surface of dark waterholes. Only a heart familiar with death will appreciate the gift of life with so deep a feeling of joy.”
We would be well-fed to adopt the world-free faith upon which these children feast. As Paul implies in Sunday’s second reading (Rom 10:8-13), it is a soul food free of geographic boundaries and full of boundless energy. All we need to do is ask for it and our supply is eternal:
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”