“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”
Gospel Acc Mt 4:4
Throughout Lent, we hear stories from a number of refugees JRS accompanies. As we read and reflect on their story, where do we notice God sustaining and nourishing us?
It turned out that joining the choir meant more to Ufuoma than simply expressing her love for singing. Ufuoma had been eagerly anticipating her silver wedding anniversary, which was to be celebrated at the end of last year. Unfortunately, her family’s ongoing journey to be recognised as refugees had put a huge strain on her marriage and her husband had walked away from it. “My issues had been compounded. I was still praying for him and looking forward to his return and thinking that we could manage this together as a family. I know how bad it is when you are standing as the head of your family but you feel you cannot help your family.”
It seemed that the day of celebration that Ufuoma had always wanted was starting to become a time of sadness. However, by coincidence, the carol service that the JRS choir were to perform at fell on the same day as Ufuoma’s 25th wedding anniversary. This turned everything around for Ufuoma: “It was a beautiful day that I looked at as a day that I think God honoured me because I was looking forward to a celebration.”
“It was a glorious day for me. It was meant to be a sad day but it all turned around.”
Join us tomorrow where we will rejoin Ufuoma on her journey.
Today we invite you to sit with the day’s readings and join Fr. Frank Turner SJ in a space of prayer and reflection.
There was no human witness to the desert temptations of Jesus, and it is clear that Jesus could never have recounted his experience in this way. Matthew’s account shows how the sacred Biblical Word of God can always be interpreted authentically – or diabolically. We learn crucial things: Jesus held prayer at the centre of his life, and saw prayer and (in the case of this first temptation) the Jewish observance of fasting as resources in meeting the intense interior challenges that must have matched the universal scale of his mission.
In the Bible, ‘bread’ is that which essentially nourishes us: food for our bodies, but more generally everything that sustains the life of both body and spirit. Thus, in The Lord’s prayer we beg God for ‘our daily bread’. Jesus’s response to the tempter shows that for him, that divine creative Word is the truest nourishment.
The distinguished German theologian Dorothée Sölle wrote a book which, in English translation, is entitled Death by Bread Alone. To reduce the scale of our desires to what satisfies the always clamorous physical appetites amounts to the denial of the true gift of divine life. To limit those desires, by contrast a symbol of our openness to this divine gift. Any Lenten practice of austerity is intended to allow our deepest desires to be formed by those of Jesus: to worship and serve God though the love of our neighbour, nearby or far away.
Frank Turner SJ