February 2002

This is the answer Jesus gave to the first of the temptations in the desert after having fasted for “forty days and forty nights”. It concerns one of our most basic needs, food.
Thus the tempter proposes to use his powers to transform the stones into loaves of bread. What evil could there be in satisfying an inherent need of human nature?
However, Jesus is aware of the deceit behind the proposal: the suggestion is to use God, expecting that he put himself at the service of our material needs. Actually, Jesus is being asked to assume an attitude of independence rather than one of filial abandonment to the Father.
This then is Jesus’ answer, which is also an answer to all our questions concerning hunger in the world and to the increasingly dramatic demand for food, housing, and clothing on the part of millions of human beings. He who will feed the crowds by miraculously multiplying the loaves and who will base the final judgement also on giving food to the hungry, tells us that God is greater than our hunger and that his word is our primary and essential nourishment.

«It is written: ’One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God’»

Jesus presents the word of God as bread, as nourishment. This thought, this likeness sheds light on our relationship with his word.
But how can we nourish ourselves with the word of God?
Just as wheat is first seed, then an ear of grain, and finally bread, similarly, the word of God is like a seed placed in us that must sprout. It’s like a piece of bread that is to be eaten, assimilated, transformed into life of our life.
The Word of God, the Logos pronounced by the Father and incarnated in Jesus, is a presence of his among us. Every time we receive it and seek to put it into practice, it’s like nourishing ourselves with Jesus.
While bread nourishes us and helps us to grow, the word of God nourishes and helps Christ to grow in us, our true personality.
The fact that Jesus came on earth and made himself our food means that a purely natural food like bread can no longer be enough for us. We need that supernatural food, God’s word, in order to grow as his children.

«It is written: ’One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God’»

The nature of this food is such that we can say of it, as of Jesus in the Eucharist, that when we eat it, it is not transformed into us, but we are transformed into him, because we are, in a way, assimilated by him.
Thus the Gospel is not a book of consolation in which we take refuge solely in painful moments, but it is the code that contains the laws of life, laws which are not only to be read, but assimilated, eaten, with the soul, thus making us similar to Christ in every instant.
Therefore, we can be another Jesus fully accomplishing his doctrine to the letter. His are the words of a God, charged with unexpected revolutionary force.
This is what we must do: nourish ourselves with the word of God. And just as the necessary nourishment for our body can nowadays be concentrated in a single pill, likewise, we can nourish ourselves with Christ by living his words one at a time, because he is present in each one of them.
There is a word for each moment, for each situation of our life. Reading the Gospel can reveal it to us.
Let us live now love of neighbor out of love for God, which is like a concentrate of all his words.

Chiara Lubich

 

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