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Fasting or eating? (Matthew chap. 4, vers. 4)

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

After so much hunger, the most logical solution is incomprehensibly discarded by Jesus. He decides to prolong his bread fast, to feed himself with another bread, very different from the material one. On closer inspection, Jesus’ response is very intelligent and represents a proposal that is far more humane than that of the tempter. He doesn’t say to not eat, it would be unfair. It would be like offering the tempter an excuse on a golden tray. He says that man shall not live by bread alone. He doesn’t say that one must not satisfy one’s appetites, one’s instincts, but offers a much wider perspective in which to place the desire of man, every desire of man.

People who don’t look beyond their noses, see just their advantage and immediate satisfaction. You cannot wait, when your soul screams, quivering from the desire to do something. Repressing would be useless. But this is not about repressing. The words of Christ offer a solution that doesn’t deny the legitimate satisfaction of one’s own passions, but includes them in a much wider context. In doing so, the impact of the instincts is calmed, allowing also the reflection. But is it really true that one must immediately “eat” when hungry? Is it really true that you must immediately find a bed and someone to vent your irrepressible instincts? If you are fixed just on instincts, on what people say, on continuous video messages or media solicitations of any kind, the answer is only one: Yes it is true. If you don’t live on bread alone, understanding that you don’t die if you don’t immediately satisfy your hunger, the answer is: No, it is not true.

After so much having fasted or so much being filled – because even “eating” too much is a form of fasting from spiritual food – we can afford the luxury of stopping, to understand if it is true that we need to vent, to try everything, not to miss even the smallest opportunity to satisfy our instincts. There is another horizon which opens not only in the sky, but above all in our heart. It’s the horizon of the word of God. When you have everything and you allow yourself everything, even one of the words that comes out of the mouth of God could make you taste other flavors. In the Bible, “the mouth of God” is an expression that indicates the prophecy, and it doesn’t coincide only with what is written in the Bible. It also represents what rises from within, from the soul, where God lives.

There are messages that open wide-ranging perspectives before your eyes, to make the needs of our bodies less pressing. Dreams, prayer or meditation, are important aspects of an existence that wants to break the boundaries of visibile to get in touch with the heart. A sandwich, a walk with a friend of the heart, but also sex and any other passion will acquire a flavor and intensity that will definitely subtract us from the grip of urgency to consume immediately and at all costs.

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Simone Venturini

Writer and Researcher at Vatican Secret Archives, Professor of Bible at Pontifical University of the Holy Cross od Rome

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