Written by Rhina M. Ramos
Matthew 4:1-3, 8-11 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread...” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
This passage is often referred as one where the underlying temptation is about possessing power. To feel on top of the world is indeed attractive. However, the devil is clearly also trying to engage Jesus to satisfy a basic physical need. The devil suggests to a hungry Jesus, make bread out of the stones.
Don’t judge me, but I think I would have given in after 40 days of fasting. Plus, as a Latina, I have a particular adoration for bread.
When I was a fundamentalist Baptist, my God seemed very narrow and condemning. I used to fast and pray for God to take away my feelings of attraction and desire for other women. I hated myself. During my 24 hour fasts, I did very little praying. Images of roasted chickens inundated my mind. I counted the minutes until midnight when I could finally eat and turn my fast over to God. I am happy now that my God never answered those prayers. Instead of answering my prayer to be who I was not, God gave me the love I needed to accept myself.
So let’s get back to temptations of the body and the heart. When the tempter decides to try to make us idolize power or material possessions, we have to access grace. It is on the grounding of our divine within, and the understanding of a God that is greater than our enemy that we can claim a liberated soul.
Prayer: May God gives the peace of knowing all we need, God will provide. Amen!
Rev. Rhina Ramos, founder of Ministerio Latino, an open and affirming congregation serving Spanish speaking LGBTQ and allies in Northern CA. Rhina also works for the Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network.