As I’ve mentioned before, Lent is a desert time, which is to say a time of simplicity, purification, and asceticism. In so many of the great figures of salvation history–Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David–a period of testing or trial is required before they can commence their work. And where does this testing often take place? In the desert.
Jesus himself went into the desert, and although he didn’t have any sin to deal with, he still, in his humanity, knew temptation. We hear that he fasted for forty days and afterwards was hungry, causing the devil to say, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
Now, there is nothing wrong with bread or food or drink in general. But the problem is making sensual pleasure the most basic good of your life. Talk to anyone who has become truly addicted to food or drink or drugs or sex–their number is legion in our society–and you will discover what happens when sensual pleasure is made central.
To fully flourish, we must place God at the forefront. This is why Jesus counters the tempter by affirming, “One does not live on bread alone.” Once that relationship with God is clear and central, you will know how to handle food and drink and sex.
So as Lent continues on, ask yourself this question: Have I made sensual pleasure too central? Have I tried to live on something other than God?
“To fully flourish, we must place God at the forefront.”
– Father Robert Barron