Pain that does not hurt.

Christian faith is born of revelation and hope: the revelation of God who was incarnate among men, and the hope that He will return to bring us definitive justice and peace. It is not certain, however, to suggest that the Church should live in the light of an enchanted and apparently utopian future, where the Messiah will satisfy all the whims and desires of the hearts of the elect.

The mission given by Christ to his disciples suggests direct engagement and commitment to the building of the Kingdom, and this process still seems to be far from that definitive justice and peace that we all, one day,  are longing to achieve. It is necessary to be aware of the rocky, arid and thorny path that lies ahead of us, and it is in order to enter into the lucidity of this reality that the liturgy of the Church introduces us to the Lenten period.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus responds to Satan as he is tempted, “One does not live by bread alone” (Lk 4:4), to which Matthew adds, “but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). It is interesting to note that Jesus is tempted to do something that is not necessarily morally wrong. In verse 2, Luke says that “he was hungry. Indeed, it is natural, for the one who is hunger, to look for food.

In fact, Jesus’ refusal is not related to the simple act of eating, but to Satan’s real intentions, for in the following verses, he says, “I will give you all this power and all its glory… Therefore, if you prostrate yourself before me in worship, all this will be yours. (Lk 4:6-7) What Jesus denies is not the food itself, but the offering of an easy life and worldly glory. His purpose is another one, and the logic of walking towards this end is different from the typical logic of this world. Pain does not always imply suffering. Privation does not always mean emptiness. Jesus felt hungry but found satiation in the Word, and his experience of being tempted for forty days in the desert relates directly to the Hebrew people as they left Egypt.

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