The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.” ‘ (Luke 4:3-4)
The Judean wilderness is a barren moonscape burnt beige-to-brown by the relentless blaze of the blinding sun, century after century. Years can pass without rain and weeks with barely a cloud.
It is there that Jesus wandered for 40 days, tested for his mission, sitting, walking, praying, sweating in the day and shivering in desert nights.
Like prophets and mystics before him, he communed with the mystery of God’s call echoing in his mind and heart, while suffering deprivations of hunger and thirst that would deter him from whatever it was that God was calling him to do.
He could use his power to ease his struggle, avoiding the bitterness of hunger and thirst. But he does not. There can be no shortcuts around the difficulties of his mission. He must live out his call in the face of challenges and hardships.
He knows: Life … Life … is not entered by satisfying our most human hungers, but by hearing and obeying the Divine Inner Voice calling the soul to surrender to the loving call of God to give itself away in loving service.
Jesus listened, heard, obeyed and carried out the mission of revealing the absolute fullness of divine love for me … for you, even through rejection and the cross.
We are enveloped in the Love that was tested in the heat of the Judean desert. This is our deepest truth, to which we return in every need. Imagine him there, staying true to the Father’s voice. He does this for you … that you may know the Love that is always for you.
With shame, we also should acknowledge that we shy from the difficulties of following him, fearing rejection or hardship, holding our tongue when we might speak a word of love, justice or guidance, refusing to interrupt our purposes and needs to serve another soul.
The way of life is to obey the Divine Voice of Love within you, no matter the cost. It is the way of Jesus. The way he shows us the Love that is ours, always.
Pr. David L. Miller