In our Gospel today we are told: “At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.”
Well, of course Jesus was hungry. But for WHAT was Jesus hungry?
For what did Jesus hunger? For food? That is what the devil thought. And so the tempter tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread in order to satisfy His hunger. But the tempter has misread the situation. Jesus is indeed hungry for bread, but after 40 days of prayer and communion with this Father in Heaven, Jesus is much more hungry for union with God, for God’s Will to be done, than Jesus is for physical food. And so it is entirely understandable that Jesus responds “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Jesus hungers for union with God.
In two weeks we will hear the Gospel of John about Jesus’ meeting and interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus is thirsty and says to the woman, “Give me a drink.” But it is clear that it is not physical water that Jesus seeks, but rather the faith of the woman. Jesus thirsts for her response in faith. That is what really motivates Jesus.
Lent is about hunger and thirst. But not only, or even primarily, about physical hunger and thirst. Lent is really about hungering and thirsting for God, for God’s Will to be done, for holiness, for union with God.
As the 42nd Psalm beautifully puts it: “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God.”
Lent is a time of hunger and of thirst. The important question is, “what are you hungering for? For what do you thirst?” Do you thirst for the living God?
In Lent we try to let go of our thirsts and hungers for food, for fame, for importance, for power, for domination, for greed, for pleasure, for me, me, me. Instead we try to open ourselves to thirsting and hungering for righteousness, for justice, for compassion, for humility, for chastity, for honesty, for holiness, for forgiveness, for GOD. Fasting is about re-orienting our wants and our desires, our longings and hunger and thirst. We are called to hunger for God’s Will in our life.
Lent is about getting our thirsts and hungers right. As the Most Interesting Man in the World tells us on the commercials, “Stay thirsty my friend.”
This Lent, stay thirsty and hungry for God’s Will in your life. May you sing with the Psalmist: “As the deer longs for streams of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God.”