Read: Luke 4:1-13
What do you do when your inner divinity is revealed? Apparently, you go out into the desert and confront your deepest humanity.
First, hunger. Deep, gnawing primal hunger. I remember still my newborn’s tiny cries and know most intimately the depth of human hunger. For an infant, hunger isn’t merely a cry of the gut. It is a scream for suckling comfort, for being held and nurtured; a cry to return to that state of union with the mother in a seamless cycle of sustenance and synchronicity.
Nor does an infant articulate or distinguish their hunger particularly much. They a lack and they cry out until it is sated.
I don’t believe for a minute that Jesus was meant to conquer his hunger or to ignore it. He was sent to the desert to *understand* it in the most visceral way. How can Jesus save if Jesus does not feel the pain and constant yearning that haunts humanity in our infant separation from the divine unity?
I also have to believe in those 40 days he came to understand something far deeper: if God becomes fully human, God must die. Perhaps upon a cross, perhaps in his sleep in old age, and perhaps alone in a desert having accomplished none of his mission.
Jesus was not tempted to turn away from God in the desert, at least not directly, but from his humanity. From the endless gnawing craving for unity and sustenance. From the certainty of death and the terror of failure and obscurity.
Only in turning towards his humanity was Jesus able to fulfill the scripture. And as Jesus did, so must we. We must feel our hunger and our fear in this Lenten time. A fear or pain unacknowledged is one that cannot be redeemed.
May we in our various fasts and spiritual moments recognize the embodiment of our deepest yearnings. Through our human helplessness, may we allow ourselves to cry out from instinct instead of elegy. And may we have the faith of a newborn baby that our cries will be heard and attended to.
Dear Jesus, you suffered temptation so that you might understand us better. Thank you. Amen.