The Fountain thirsts, the Bread is hungry here,
The Light is dark, the Word without a voice.
When darkness speaks it seems so light and clear.
Now he must dare, with us, to make a choice.
In a distended belly’s cruel curve
He feels the famine of the ones who lose,
He starves for those whom we have forced to starve,
He chooses now for those who cannot choose.
He is the staff and sustenance of life,
He lives for all from one sustaining Word,
His love still breaks and pierces like a knife
The stony ground of hearts that never shared.
God gives through him what Satan never could;
The broken bread that is our only food.
Malcolm Guite reads today’s poem
For the next three days we will examine the temptations of Christ in the wilderness, beginning with the first; to satiate His hunger by turning stones into bread. Each temptation represented a corruption of that which God originated with the highest good in design.
In The Word in the Wilderness, Malcolm Guite writes:
We are tempted to serve first our own creature comforts, to tend to our obsessions and addictions before we have even considered the needs of others.
Jesus’ reply to Satan is instructive: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ Selfish motives never satisfy the soul.
Again, Malcolm writes:
All good things come from God, and those things that the devil pretends to offer, but in the wrong way or for the wrong reasons, are cheap imitations of the very gifts that God does indeed offer and that Jesus himself receives, enjoys and, crucially, shares. He refuses to turn stones into bread for himself at the devil’s behest, but later, in that same wilderness, he takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it, and feeds 5,000 with all they want, and 12 full baskets are left over! This was the substantial good from God, in light of which, and to gain which, it was necessary to refuse the shadowy substitute.
If yielding to lust doesn’t satisfy, why are we so easily tempted?
1 John 2:16
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
Art: Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness, by Artist: James Tissot
Image from Wikimedia Commons. License: Public Domain
Mt 4:11, Mk 1:13, Lk 4:1–2
Literature & Liturgy: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Guite, Malcolm. Word in the Wilderness. Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd.
Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings. For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page.
Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith
For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.