The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” – Matthew 4:3

Temptation I recognize, Jesus
(except when I don’t).
My media diet is full to the brim
of temptation, allure:
“Buy this! Buy that! And life
will be better for sure!”

At times I am sure that
temptation disguises itself as need:
a tool or a book or a thing
enlivening live streams or
enhancing worship or
giving me something to think on anew.

Might temptation be present in
obvious choices, the things that we get
because Mom always got them?
The symbols we use, uniforms donned.
As I bow my head for a Sunday stole,
do I hear a reproach in its wavering fringe?

And then there’s temptation
I simply don’t recognize, and here I must ask:
What’s wrong with transforming the stones
into bread? Your need was as real as
the need of five thousand
or those who lived on the manna of Sinai.

Your retort to the Tempter – what does it mean?
We live by the words of the mouth of God?
Who would know that better than the Incarnate Word?
And yet you consumed the fruit of the land,
the bread from the ground, its flour ground
(as you knew) between stones.

As a test, I can pass this one, Jesus.
I can. There’s no sign the power
of stone-flour bread is mine to command.
But I wonder, Messiah. You spotted this test.
You chose your best course. You passed the exam.
But would anyone else? Could anyone else?

The Tempter was someone you knew to resist.
I don’t always know. Sometimes, but not always.
The action was one that would lead you astray.
The paths that I follow all seem to be straight… to start.
So I beg you to help me to choose the true bread,
for I don’t always recognize the voice of God.

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 4:1-11, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, First Sunday in Lent.

The image is an illustration in a Psalter ca. 1222 by an unknown artist – Self-scanned Rosa Giorgi: Bildlexikon der Kunst, Bd. 6.: Engel, Dämonen und phantastische Wesen, 384 S., Berlin: Parthas-Verlag 2003, ISBN 3936324042 / ISBN 9783936324044, S. 130, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=114178710.

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