“For the LORD your God has blessed you in all that you have done; God has known your wanderings through this great wilderness…The LORD your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing.”‘
A Word of Hope
How often have you started a rather complex and difficult task, and soon had second thoughts about why you were doing it? In Jesus’ humanity, surely there was a period during his wilderness experience in which he must have questioned the deeply spiritual presence within him and the path on which it seemed to propel him. As he realized more about the magnitude of this decision, there must have been the need for a time of serious discernment. Discernment is easier when the daily world activities do not interfere. The desert and wilderness of the great Jordan Valley provided the necessary isolation for a productive time of prayer and self-reflection.
Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 4) states that his journey into that desolate and unwelcoming environment soon caused Jesus’ body to be famished. During discernment, a person may become so physically and mentally exhausted that his mind will offer possible answers in an attempt to clarify or solve the problem. This gospel indicates that the starving Jesus was surrounded by a barren, rocky environment. Realizing more acutely the God presence within his body, he was tempted to allow this divine power to miraculously change stones into life-giving loaves of bread to satisfy his physical hunger. But he resisted the temptation to subvert his inner divine power to satisfy his physical needs.
Later when Jesus told his disciples about this temptation experience, he would have used an Aramaic word like “lachma” to mean bread which satisfies hunger. But that Aramaic word has multiple meanings including “wisdom”. This desert experience was an attempt to search for understanding and assurance about his spiritual quest for life. These dual meanings of the word convey Jesus’ response to the temptation by indicating that humans need not only food to live, but they also need wisdom (divine understanding) from God to live spiritually. Both are necessary.
We are in the wilderness. We know the task ahead of us can drain us both physically and spiritually. In all that we seek, may we seek wisdom first that we may remember when you are with us we will never lack a thing.
Donald (Luke) Day
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare