“…bread alone can’t define the value of a human being…”
Peoples do not survive on bread alone! As we gear our 40-day journey of Lent, it is good to be reminded of what we essentially and substantially need as seekers of God’s kingdom. To whom do we ultimately depend for survival in this untold journey towards the fullness of life?
The world has everything to distract us. In fact, we are currently bombarded with politicians selling their “bread”- their platform for government office, divulging it to the public, apparently offering voters the reason to hope that somehow remediates the century’s old rotting problems on poverty. The bread that politicians are offering to the people embodies means and ways that seemingly alleviate the miserable lives of the majority. At the kick off of political campaigns, we can hear them convincing the people to patronize their “baked bread” creamed and sweetened with assurances of clear and honest governance. However this bread is not yet ready for consumption for it is still enveloped in their lofty promises. Tracking back in history, it has been a trend to entomb all promises to forgetfulness after election. This political bread is proven to be not dependable to the fullness of life for it is essentially limited to power and money.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus is telling the devil that man definitely can’t survive by bread alone. He is realistic in affirming implicitly the amplified meaning of bread to the current time. His response to the devil doesn’t mean deprivation of material things. However he was sharp in telling his opponent that bread alone can’t define the value of a human being. Money can be understood as bread nowadays and all kinds of needs that money can procure - gadgets, newly styled clothing, luxury cars, and lavish lifestyles. The bulging pockets one have, the more he feels that life is worth living. There is truth embedding to this, however it undermines the profoundness of life. To stay contented with what we kept materially would defeat the ultimate purpose of our existence. We are not for the world; the world is not our definitive end. There is always an essential part of our being that the world cannot satiate. We have a soul that needs to be rescued from wilting. The more we get entangled with what money could give, the harder our soul would struggle to survive.
The world is filled with disputes emanating from selfish desire to dominate and govern. Innocent children are terrorized and abandoned in the middle of chaos. It seems that the world is subscribing the fleeting power and makes it the only defining factor of being.
It is not bad to have power when it is used to help the poor and the weak. It is not prohibited to have possessions if one would become the channel of God’s grace. It is not a sin to experience pleasure in life if that would attest the liberating grace of God. Jesus is showing us how to resist the tempting offers that the world endows us. The devil has an agenda for all of us to provide temporary pleasures and happiness; but let us remember that Jesus himself is embodiment of a lasting agenda of the Father. He is the everlasting Bread of life that would give us essential and substantial nourishment.
Let us be reminded that in this season of Lent we are encouraged to enter into the dessert to reflect and meditate the saving journey of Christ. We need to delve into the inner core of our being – the deserted place. It is where we experience abandonment to God and hunger for bread that gives nourishment to both body and soul.
Saint John Eudes proposes interior prayer in which the soul communes inwardly with God for it satisfies humanity's diverse spiritual hungers. It is through this that we can fully grasp that “we do not live on bread alone” but to be totally dependent on the love, compassion and the mercy of God embodied in Christ Jesus.
We thank you Father for all the things you gratuitously given to us to fill in our human needs. Most all we thank you for reminding us that our worth as your Children cannot be exhausted by what we possess in this world but in the saving work of your Son Jesus Christ the Bread of everlasting life. Amen.