Little phrases in Sacred Scripture sometimes grab hold of my attention. This one in Luke's Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent did just that. "He was hungry." The He being Jesus at the end of His 40 days in the desert. Little phrases like this one seem at face value, to mean nothing more than what they say. Of course Jesus was physically hungry at the end of a 40 day fast!
All of the writing in Sacred Scripture is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. So I often feel that those little phrases that sometimes overstate the obvious, are there for a reason and offer us some food for deeper reflection. I have used this phrase from today's Gospel for such a purpose. This is not the first time this has happened while reading or listening to a Scripture passage. Over time I have learned to pay attention to these spiritual tugs from the Holy Spirit (or at least I try to).
Since Jesus' physical hunger would have been an obvious fact to anyone, St Luke may have been inspired to include it for a deeper reason. Let's take a look at the context of what was going on in this passage, what came before and what would follow.
Jesus had just come from the Jordan where He was baptized by John the Baptist. Scripture then tells us that He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Here Jesus spends 40 days and nights during which time He is tempted three times (probably more) by Satan. So at the end of that 40 days, Jesus leaves the wilderness, yes physically hungry and tired, but I dare say probably spiritually charged for what would lie ahead~ three years of public ministry, and eventually the Cross.
This why I felt that there was more to that three worded phrase than met the eye. The more I let those words roll around my heart and brain, it seemed that maybe Jesus hungered for more than mere bread. After all, during His first temptation from the devil, Jesus' response to him is that "One does not live by bread alone..." St Matthew's version of this scene goes on to say: "but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."
Jesus is the Word sent by God His Father. Perhaps Jesus was hungry for souls to hear His message during the time He would travel, teach and preach. He hungered for souls, those He met during those three years of public ministry, and those that would come to know Him down through the ages~that includes each of us.
Jesus hungered for souls then at the beginning of His ministry, just as He thirsted for them as He hung on the Cross at the end of it.
As we journey with Jesus during these 40 days in our own Lenten wildernesses, let us remember Jesus' hunger for each of us and for those who do not yet know Him. May our lives reflect that spiritual hunger of His just as it was reflected in the lives of the Apostles.