Jesus replied, “It’s written, people won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God” (Matthew 4:4. Common English Bible).
Jesus’ journey in the desert is a perfect model for contemplative prayer. The Desert Mothers and Fathers made the journey of Jesus their own. They left behind everything else and searched for union with God out of their poverty. This is why Lent gets its theme of wandering in the desert fasting, praying and acts of self-denial.
In the desert we loose all illusions of power, ownership, fame, fortune and that sense of knowing where we are going. There is no corner store. No internet network connection. No Facebook. No case with bottled water. The only thing about wandering in the desert is that we are alone. We will face ourselves as we are. We will experience the best of ourselves and see the worst of ourselves. In the desert, we will learn Who it is that we ultimately depend on for the necessities of life.
Lectio Divina (the prayerful reading of Scripture) is about letting Jesus the Bread of Life, the Word of God speak in the depths of our heart and change our lives. I think this is at the heart of the temptation in which Jesus is tempted to turn the stones into bread. It isn’t about being hungry, nor is it an excuse for ignoring those who are hungry. Living the life of a Christian is about seeing God present and working in every aspect of life. A life lived as a contemplative (or the interior life), recognizes that everything we are, everything we use, everything around us and in us is God interacting with us in Jesus, the Word. The Word is speaking. Calling. Loving. Inviting. Forgiving. Molding and shaping us to live into the mystery of what Jesus said in John 15:5, “without me you can do nothing.”
How are you listening more closely to every word spoken by God this Lent?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB
“What is not possible for us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English. Prologue, vs. 41, p.165).