Sunday 1 March 2020

First Sunday of Lent - Year A

Word for today
The Gospel of Luke 4:1-13

At table

Everything that is alive consumes power and gets hungry, and everything that is hungry needs food, everything that needs food has to eat and somehow it has to sit at table. The human being is no exception to this law of life. Even man's inner self is hungry, hungry for beauty, pleasure, health, peace, prosperity, serenity, joy, love, satisfaction and many other realities. If,  at a physiological level, there is plenty of different and varied food, at the mental, emotional and spiritual level, there are only two kinds of nutrients. Man's heart is constituted in such a way that it can only eat two substances, and it can never feed itself on both of them at the same time: gratitude or revolt. Gratitude and revolt are two possible nutrients for our minds and our hearts. In the face of life's inevitable challenges, at every moment a man's heart can choose to feed itself with the food of gratitude or that of rebellion. Every day we can decide to sit at the table either with revolt or with gratitude. Literally led by the Spirit, Jesus the Son of God was forced to choose what food he would feed His heart throughout His earthly life. The challenger, the devil, was allowed by divine permission to tempt all human beings who are born on this earth in order to convince them to feed themselves with revolt instead of gratitude, with fear instead of love. Jesus could not be an exception to this possibility granted by Heaven, and thus the challenger tempted Jesus to use rebellion in order to do the Father's will. Before being challenge, after forty days of fasting in the desert, Jesus was hungry, very hungry, like all human beings, and that was the time the  challenger began his tactics as a tempter. The challenger had a unique opportunity - one he had been getting ready for since the beginning of time - he could finally challenge the Son of God, Jesus, the beloved of the Father. The devil did not waste a second, he utilized all his temptations, he made use of all of his knowledge in the attempt to induce Jesus to choose to feed His heart with revolt instead of gratitude. First of all, he challenged Jesus with the oldest temptation: he tempted Jesus to satisfy His hunger and to find a solution to His physiological needs using the supreme power of His divinity to overcome the laws of nature, that is to work a miracle. Jesus, Loving Gratitude incarnated, responded that neither in heaven or on earth can hunger be satisfied by bread alone, it is impossible. There is a kind of bread which satisfies all hunger in a very rich and abundant way:  learning to desire what God desires and using all of the energy/force at our disposal to realize those desires peacefully. Thinking that we can feed ourselves only with the things of the world is completely crazy, we will continue to feed ourselves endlessly with misery, slavery and fear. The heart that learns how to feed on God's desires will learn to enjoy true happiness and wealth in all of life's aspects. The second challenge in order to solve every kind of hunger is the most common and it refers to procuring our well-being, personal fulfillment and happiness by becoming powerful and successful on the one hand and subjecting oneself to the powerful on the other. It is idolatry. Idolatry is considering God what is not God, and considering God as if He was not. It means putting oneself in God's place, seeking glory from other people and being affected by their power as if they were gods. Jesus, the Loving Gratitude incarnated, responded that in heaven and on earth no hunger authorizes anyone to subject oneself and to adore as divine something or someone who is not God. In addition to being an illusory and very silly process, human glory, success, vanity do not bring true happiness, do not nourish at all. On the contrary, over time they dry up our forces, heart, and soul through all forms of violence and solitude. The final challenge was the most dangerous one, it refers to assuring oneself the goods of life, safety and health by attempting to obtain the clemency of an adverse destiny linked to  the dark forces of magic, astrology, occultism. Jesus, Loving Gratitude incarnated, responded that in heaven and on earth that submission to accidents and all forms of magic and divination is real defiance against God's name, against the greatness of His power; and certainly magic and occultism cannot feed the hunger of individuals created in God's image and likeness. It can only lead humanity on the dark path of ignorance and death, terror and persecution. The mental and spiritual state of challenge is disastrous and destructive to man. It immediately eradicates a state of gratitude from our hearts, leading us to distance ourselves  from all divine harmony; it nullifies the power of our desires and annihilates our faith. A state of challenge can produce active commitment, impetus and determination; it certainly leads to competition, and it takes away energy, intelligence and clarity, and above all it does not nourish. The evil one did his very best against Jesus, he tried every temptation, "all the challenges" the Greek text says literally. The devil did his very best, but Jesus' answer remained perfectly firm in a state of thankfulness in accordance to how God the Father acts and does all things. That is what overcame the tempter: never having doubts about gratitude towards God. Jesus' grace, the power of His desire, the absolute purity of His love without doubts concerning what the Father desires wins on all fronts. Having consumed all his resources, the devil goes away exhausted and hungry. Every day, every moment the challenger tempts us to use revolt instead of gratitude as an approach and a solution to life's difficulties. Jesus offers gratitude and love. In every moment each of us has to decide who we should feed on, and whom to sit with at table day after day.