Thomas Aquinas on the Incomprehensibility of God

St Thomas AquinasIt’s good to be reminded that God is beyond us – that what makes him God.  It’s even, says St. Thomas, a way of knowing God: to know him as the one you cannot fathom.

 It’s also good to be reminded that someone like Thomas Aquinas glories in God’s unknowability.  That is, you don’t have to be anti-intellectual in order to rejoice in the unfathomable depths of God.  To say either you like to think or you appreciate mystery is a false dichotomy.  Indeed, I think St. Thomas would say we can appreciate God’s unfathomable depths best when we try to fathom them.

Here’s St. Thomas, in the midst of talking about different ways to know God:

 

But some come to knowledge of God by the incomprehensibility of the truth.  For every truth which our intellect can contain is finite – for, as Augustine says, everything known is within the limits of the knower’s comprehension.  Thus it must be that the first and highest truth, which is above every intellect, would be incomprehensible and without limits: that is, God.

So in Psalm 8 it says, your magnificence is lifted up above the heavens, that is, above every created intellect, angelic or human.  And this is because, as the Apostle says, he dwells in inaccessible light (1 Tim 5:16).  Isaiah says, I saw the Lord setting upon a thrown, high and lifted up.  By lifted up he means, above all knowing of created intellects.

And John reminds us of this incomprehensibility when he says, No one has ever seen God.

-From the commentary on the prologue to John’s Gospel

The Psalms on the Prosperity of the Wicked

King David, Westminster Psalter

King David, Westminster Psalter

The next line of our Psalm 26 says, “I do not sit with wicked men.”  It alerts us of another key challenge in the Psalms.  Why do the wicked prosper?

The Psalms open with a common theme of the Old Testament (and in its own way, the New): “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly . . . whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1, 3).

Just two weeks ago we talked about the line “your goodness is before my eyes.”  The Psalms claim that God is good to us: he makes us happy, and is a good king, who judges justly.

But that’s not the way it is, and the Psalms know it.  “I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. . . .  Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world, they increase in riches” (73:3, 12).

Indeed, they prosper at the expense of the good: “The cords of the wicked have wrapped me up, but I have not forgotten your law” (119:61).  It isn’t always our fault.  Sometimes we do what we’re supposed to do, and the wicked win.

In fact, it seems like they win all the time.  The righteous are crucified, while those who ignore God seem to have all the fun.

***

This is such a challenge that our Psalm 26 goes on about it at length:

“I do not sit with wicked men

Nor join with the deceitful

I have hated the gathering of those who do evil

And I do not join with the impious.”

The Psalmist has to insist – and we have to repeat these lines to ourselves – because the company of the wicked is attractive.  It seems like they have all the fun.  It seems like the wicked prosper.

Let’s be concrete: how often are we tempted to participate in a media that forgets God, the moral law, and basic justice?

How often are we tempted to drive, or do our work, or build our homes, like those who have forgotten God?

It seems like we would have a happier life if we joined in.  And  it seems like their “wickedness” isn’t doing them any harm anyway.

The Psalmist’s answer to this is emphatic: do not conform!  Do not bargain!  Do not sit with the wicked.

***

The Psalms do not deny the prosperity of the wicked.  Rather, they say, “do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass” (37:7).  We have to learn how to see their prosperity and not fret.

Perhaps the heart of the answer is in a line like this: “with your own eyes you shall see how the wicked are repaid” (91:8).  Or as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “they have their reward.”

The Psalms – and our faith – call us to recognize that there are different kinds of rewards.  Does crime pay?  Well, yes, in some ways it does pay.  A certain road may indeed be the fastest way to get you to a given destination – the question is where you want to go.

The best way to make a lot of money may indeed be through wickedness.  The question is whether money is what you really want.

You can “see with your eyes” the way they are repaid.  That doesn’t mean, “you can see them punished.”  It means, yes, they get the material things they want.  They built their big house.  The punishment, on the other hand, might be precisely what you can’t see with material eyes.

***

The first Psalm says, “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly . . . whatever he does shall prosper,” but there’s a catch.  The questions are what such a man actually does, and what he counts as prospering.

That is, someone who goes to Mass might not make big money if he starts a business.  Because someone who is truly righteous won’t be out to make big money anyway: that isn’t the “prosperity” he seeks.  And so profit-making may not even be “whatever he does.”  Even if he starts a business, he might have other things in mind than making big money: like caring for his customers and his workers.

Meanwhile, “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away” (1:4).  The prosperity they win is real, and tangible, and visible.  But it isn’t what lasts.

Are there parts of your life where you have your eyes on the wrong prosperity?

Click here for the entire series on praying with the Psalms.

 

Nineteenth Sunday: The Still, Small Voice

St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

1 KNGS  19:9a, 11-13a; PS 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14; ROM 9:1-5; MT 14:22-33

This week we again have a deceptively simple Gospel story. Again, like the parables, there is more than meets the eye.

“Jesus made the disciples get into a boat . . . . The wind was against it. . . . ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’ . . . ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ . . . ‘Lord, save me!’ . . . ‘Why did you doubt?’ ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’”

Again, the story is rich and beautiful and stirring even on its surface level. Jesus is Lord of Creation – “consubstantial with” the “maker of heaven and earth.” He can save us, but we must trust him. Good!

***

But the liturgy takes us deeper into the riches of this he story by setting it against Elijah and Romans.

The story from First Kings is the “still small voice.” Elijah knows God, and God speaks to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.”

There follows “a strong and heavy wind . . . crushing rocks before the LORD” (pretty impressive!), an earthquake, and a fire – “but the LORD was not in the wind.”

Our translation says there was finally a “tiny whispering sound.” Now, there’s an insight in that translation. God is not just in the excitement – not just in the walking on waves and calming of storms, but also in the tiniest details. And though destruction is impressive, and may go “before the LORD,” God is not in destruction. The real presense of God is more subtle than that.

***

But I think in another way our translation is unfortunate. The old King James has “a still small voice,” and so far as I can tell from my concordance (I am not a Hebrew scholar, but have some good tools), the tiny whispering is not just a “sound” but a “voice.” The Hebrew word seems to be about calling, beckoning, and Elijah’s response is to go out to meet it.

He not only hears a sound. He is called. And indeed, what follows (after what we will hear at Mass) is instructions.

God is Lord of nature, yes. He can walk on the sea and still the waves, and that is important. But more important is that he calls to us, speaks to us, converses with us, and tells us the way we should go. God is more intimate than just impressive miracles.

***

Our reading from Romans is a little obscure. It begins the very difficult chapters 9-11, in which Paul discusses the plight of the Jews. Paul is a Jew, and loves the Jews: “I could wish that I myself were accursed . . . for the sake of my people.” And Paul insists on the truth of the Jewish faith: “theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” Christ does not annul Judaism, he fulfills it.

The connections to our other readings are subtle. Paul begins, “my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart,” yearning for the salvation of his people.

This is a very fine statement, close to the heart of Paul’s teaching. “My conscience joins with the Holy Spirit.” It is the still small voice. God speaks to us interiorly. He enlightens us, illumines us – and so sets Paul afire, with “great sorrow and constant anguish.”

God doesn’t just do miracles. He speaks, and his word is life.

Paul works throughout to explain the continuity of this with “the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” All of that speaking in the Old Testament is the same God who speaks to Paul – and to Elijah, and to Peter. He is a God who shows us the way to him, and tells us about himself.

***

Let us return, briefly, to the Gospel. The reading begins strangely: “Jesus made the disciples get into a boat . . . while he dismissed the crowds.” He sets them up. Their obedience to his word prepares them to receive his miracle.

And at the heart of that miracle is a dialogue:

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

“Lord, save me!”

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

It isn’t about walking on water. It’s about hearing his words of peace, calling out to him, and learning to trust.

How could we find more opportunities to heed his promises to us?

St. Dominic and the Rosary

1143_jesus_handing_rosary_to_st_dominic_4f5e857a19fb7Tomorrow is the feast of St. Dominic (1170-1221). I must acknowledge that he is far and away my favorite saint (after Mary), the driving inspiration of this Web site.

Recent scholarship has not been kind to the tradition that St. Dominic invented the rosary – or that Our Lady gave it to him, and he promoted it. Dominic was a great lover of Mary in an age when Mary was greatly loved, but none of the myriad stories of his time make any mention of the rosary as we now know it. Bl. Alain de la Roche (1428-75), the great promoter of the rosary in the fifteenth century, is the first one to tell stories of Dominic and the rosary.

Nonetheless, we can learn much about both St. Dominic and the rosary by thinking about their connections. We might even be able to uncover Bl. Alain’s basic insight.

***

Dominic founded an Order of Preachers. His mission began in an inn in southern France. The innkeeper had embraced the Albigensian heresy, which claimed an evil creator of the material world. Dominic talked with him through the night to bring him back to Christ, our incarnate Creator and Redeemer.

Dominic realized that bad ideas can destroy our spiritual life, and that good ideas lead to spiritual life. Dominic was not an academic, nor was the innkeeper. The mission of preaching is no “intellectual exercise.” It was preaching: speaking the truth about Christ, believing that that truth is saving, and healing, and redeeming. It was about nurturing faith by setting forth the image of Christ in all its richness.

***

In truth, Dominic’s mission begins before that night, as an Augustinian canon in Old Castile, in Spain. Before Dominic was a preacher, he was a contemplative. He lived the life of Scripture, praying the Psalms and pondering the saving words of divine truth.

Dominic discovered, first in his own spiritual life, that Christ is worth contemplating, worth discovering in all his richness.

Modernity (and perhaps some significant parts of modern Catholic spirituality) has lost some of this richness. We tend to think pictures are more valuable than words, and feelings more real than truth. The problem is that the pictures are of our own making; the Word is from God. And the Word can take us deeper into the reality of Christ than any of our pictures, nice as they may be: only words can tell us “this is my Body,” “my Lord and my God.”

Dominic’s Scriptural spirituality – truly the traditional spirituality of Catholicism, in every era before the modern one – begged Christ to tell us about himself. It found in his Word a God infinitely more wonderful than we can imagine.

***

Today we (heirs, really, of nominalism) use “intellectual” as a bad word, to mean someone who cares about ideas more than reality. Or at best, we say things like “men, like fish, are caught by their heads”: as if the word serves to “catch” men, but isn’t part of their real encounter with Christ. Once we convince them, it sometimes seems, they enter into a vague, word-less spirituality.

With Dominic it was not so. He was in no sense an academic – indeed, his most faithful, immediate successor as Master of the Order, Bl. Jordan of Saxon, was famous for dragging men away from the university, to the life of radical poverty and total devotion to prayer and preaching, and the early rules of the Order prohibited even the liberal arts except insofar as they aided the study of Scripture.

But Dominic was a preacher, who gave his life to using words, especially the words of Scripture, to speak to ordinary people about Christ, and to lead himself and others to Christ.

***

Dominic did not preach the rosary as we now know it, with its cycle of mysteries. But we do know that at his time people prayed Hail Mary’s on cycles of beads, as a stand-in when they did not have access to Scriptural prayer. (There were 150 Hail Mary’s to match the 150 Psalms.)

Bl. Alain seems to have invented the cycle of mysteries to facilitate the praying of the Hail Mary. But Dominic knew the value, for simple people and university professors alike, of meditating on the words of Scripture, especially that most central proclamation of the Gospel, the Hail Mary.

Bl. Alain added the mysteries to help us enter into the words, just as the images in church help us ponder the words of the liturgy. The real insight of St. Dominic, and of the rosary, is that those words are the Gospel truth.

How could you better listen to the words of Christ?

Aparecida on the Communion of Missionary Disciples

brazil-popeThe next three weeks we will examine chapter five of the Aparecida document, on “the communion of the missionary disciples in the Church.” We are learning, in Part Two of the document, about “The Life of Jesus Christ in Missionary Disciples,” and we on our way from the chapter on holiness to the chapter on formation.

But Aparecida pauses for a long chapter – the second longest, after the one on formation – on communion, the Church. The context explains the importance of the chapter. What does holiness mean, and how do we achieve it, form people to it? We cannot rightly answer those questions without a vivid appreciation of the importance of the Church in our lives.

Aparecida rightly approaches the Church through the lens of “communion.” The Church is hierarchy, yes, and sacraments. But even more fundamentally, the Church is communion, the body of Christ, the spiritual conjoining of Christ and all those who are united to him. This is the central teaching of the Second Vatican Council: the Church is communion. But it is an utterly traditional teaching, a restatement and more vivid appreciation of the Council of Trent, of the medievals, the Fathers, and Scripture.

To envision Christianity without communion – true communion, with the universal Church – is to envision a Christianity without Christ, because if we are joined to Christ, we are joined to all others who are joined to him.

***

This chapter passes through five sections:

 5. The Communion of the Missionary Disciples in the Church

     a. Called to Live in Communion

     b. Ecclesial Places for Communion (i-iv)

     c. Missionary Disciples with Specific Vocations (i-v)

     d. Those Who Have Left the Church to Join Other Religious Groups

     e. Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue

          i. Ecumenical dialogue so that the world may believe

          ii. Relationship with Judaism and interreligious dialogue

The first section states the theme, as we have above. The next four discuss the living out of that theme. Sections b and c are long, and we shall discuss them at greater length in the next two weeks. Here we merely outline.

The idea of “places” for communion makes communion concrete. We live in the Communion of Saints, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. We pray for the souls of the Church in purgatory. We obey the teaching of the Church, and love her Tradition. But these can all fade into mere ideas if we don’t live it out practically.

At the heart of Jesus’s preaching is love of neighbor. Simply put, it means that true communion in the Church is either lived in relation to our neighbor, or not at all. Neighbor is a brilliant term. In English “neigh” is from “nigh,” or “near” – the point is more vivid in Greek and Latin.

Christ’s insistence on the “neighbor” is simply an insistence on “place” in our living communion. Yes, we love the universal Church. But as material beings, we love it by loving the people who are near to us, the ones we actually see and deal with. This is where we discover what communion really means. More on that next week.

***

The next section considers “vocations.” The insight is straight from St. Paul: to love the body is to recognize that there are different parts, with different roles. The communion of the Church is not a “heap” of identical members – not a pile of fingers, which would be no body at all – but a rich interrelation of different vocations.

This is the second aspect of living communion: to embrace our own vocation, to accept the vocations of others, to love the appropriate diversity within the Body of Christ. Like love of neighbor, this is what makes communion real. We will discuss it more in two weeks.

***

As the sections on “places” and “vocations” discuss communion within the Church, so the sections on “those who have left” and on “interreligious dialogue” discuss our relation with those outside the Church.

The simple insight is that the way we think about these things is entirely related to how we think about communion.

We see – for fallen-away Catholics, for non-Catholic Christians, for Jews, and for those of other religions – the tragedy of being, in various ways and degrees, separated from the body of Christ.

And we see our call to invite them back, not only to a certain dogmas or practices, but to the communion, and indeed, neighborliness, that those dogmas and practices undergird.

Are there areas of your life that you need to think about in terms of communion?

Click here for the entire series on the Aparecida document.

The Curé of Ars on Lukewarmness and the Battle for Heaven

One more excerpt from that homily by St. Jean Vianney on Lukewarmness. The spiritual life is a battle, a struggle – if we love, we want to be better. This is how we are meant to approach Confession, our examination of conscience, our prayer, and our fasting. We should never say, “I won’t go to hell for that.” We should say, “how can I run towards heaven?”

vianney2A lukewarm soul will go to Confession regularly, and even quite frequently. But what kind of Confessions are they? No preparation, no desire to correct faults, or, at the least, a desire so feeble and so small that the slightest difficulty will put a stop to it altogether. The Confessions of such a person are merely repetitions of old ones, which would be a happy state of affairs indeed if there were nothing to add to them. Twenty years ago he was accusing himself of the same things he confesses today, and if he goes to Confession for the next twenty years, he will say the same things. A lukewarm soul will not, if you like, commit the big sins. But some slander or back-biting, a lie, a feeling of hatred, of dislike, of jealousy, a slight touch of deceit or double-dealing — these count for nothing with it. …

He does not want, of course, to have distractions during prayer or during the Holy Mass, yet when he should put up some little fight against them, he suffers them very patiently, considering the fact that he does not like them. Fast days are reduced to practically nothing, either by advancing the time of the main meal or, under the pretext that Heaven was never taken by famine, by making the collation so abundant that it amounts to a full meal. When he performs good or beneficial actions, his intentions are often very mixed — sometimes it is to please someone, sometimes it is out of compassion, and sometimes it is just to please the world.

With such people everything that is not a really serious sin is good enough. They like doing good, being faithful, but they wish that it did not cost them anything or, at least, that it cost very little. They would like to visit the sick, indeed, but it would be more convenient if the sick would come to them. They have something to give away in alms, they know quite well that a certain person has need of help, but they wait until she comes to ask them instead of anticipating her, which would make the kindness so very much more meritorious. We will even say, my brethren, that the person who leads a lukewarm life does not fail to do plenty of good works, to frequent the Sacraments, to assist regularly at all church services, but in all of this one sees only a weak, languishing faith, hope which the slightest trial will upset, a love of God and of neighbour which is without warmth or pleasure. Everything that such a person does is not entirely lost, but it is very nearly so.

The Psalms on Truth

King David, Westminster Psalter

King David, Westminster Psalter

The next line of our Psalm describes moral righteousness as, “And I walk in your truth.”

Truth is a central, and surprisingly mystical, concept in the Psalms, appearing over forty times. We are to speak truth in our hearts, we ask God to lead us in his truth, and we long to declare the truth.

But more often then these practical uses of the word, the Psalms speak of the “God of truth.” “All his works are done in truth.” We ask him, “send out thy light and thy truth,” which is clear enough, but we also say he “keeps truth” and even “cuts off” the wicked “in thy truth.”

At least nine times the Psalms put truth together with mercy, or lovingkindness (chesed). “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth.” “I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth.” Modern minds probably don’t naturally make this connection, but it is continually on the lips of the Psalmist.

Finally, of the Messiah we pray, “in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness”: truth describes his goodness. And we look forward to the days when “truth shall spring out of the earth.”

***

So (as someone asked) what is truth? On the most basic level, truth is conformity to reality: when what we say or think matches the way things are, then our thoughts or words are true.

The Hebrew word for truth is rooted in the idea of stability. There is a “way things are,” a real world out there that our thoughts and words do not change. Truth is a kind of stability in us, as we conform to that stability “out there,” as we move from being pushed around by our feelings to standing on the firm ground of reality.

***

But in theology, there is another side of truth. The way things are is not the source of its own stability. Reality comes forth from God; conforming to the reality of creation also means conforming to the Creator.

Devotion to truth points deeper, into devotion to the wisdom of God which makes the world. John’s Gospel (and, in their own way, Paul’s letters) tells us all things were made through God’s eternal Word, his intelligence, which itself becomes flesh to save us.

It does not seem natural for moderns to think of Jesus as the eternal wisdom, or Creation as rooted in an eternal plan. We tend to focus more on power and sheer will. But Scripture, from Genesis to the wisdom literature and the Psalms, through to John and Paul, finds a deeper mysticism in this vision of wisdom.

When we speak of God’s truth, we mean not God’s conformity to reality, but reality’s conformity to God.

To love the truth, to conform to the reality of creation, is to love the wisdom, the truth, that made it.

***

We can think of this in two ways. One is to pursue Wisdom – divine Wisdom, who is God himself, and especially Christ, “the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24) and the logos of Creation, through whom all things were made (John 1:3). In conforming to reality as it truly is, we conform to him. In loving the truth, we love his wisdom, and so see his goodness.

Another way to think of it is as love seeping into all our lives. We want to love God. But how can we love God except in the details of our life? That love takes flesh when we embrace the details of reality as he made them, by embracing the truth.

To love God and to contemplate his wisdom: that is the meaning of truth.

***

This is the heart, too, of the love of the Law, which runs even more pervasively throughout the Psalms. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul” says Psalm 19, after beginning with the theme of Creation: “the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”

And the longest Psalm, 119, has 176 verses, every one of which proclaims the goodness of God’s law: “O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Through your commandments you have made me wiser than my enemies.”

This is the heart of morality: the love of God’s truth, the love of his wisdom, conformity to the goodness of reality as he made it, because he made it that way.

Are there areas of life where you prefer your imaginings to reality?

Click here for the entire series on praying with the Psalms.

Eighteenth Sunday: Jesus the Giver of Life

St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

IS 55:1-3; PS 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18; ROM 8:35, 37-39; MT 14:13-21

Our readings for this Sunday are deceptively simple – but just as in the parables we have considered the last few weeks, only faith uncovers the deeper good news beneath the poetry.

In the Gospel, Jesus is “moved with pity,” and he cures the sick. Then he sees that there is no food, and he multiplies what the disciples give him: five loaves and two fish for five thousand, with twelve wicker baskets left over. (We should note that in the thought-world of the Bible, numbers have symbolic value; but we do not have time to pursue that here.)

We see Jesus’s love, we see his provision, we see how he multiplies the little that we have. All lovely, and profound.

***

And in an especially poetic passage from a book filled with beautiful poetry, the prophet Isaiah says, “Thus says the LORD: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!”

Without being sentimental, let us say: the words are beautiful, healing, life-giving. The Word of God is balm. It is not too much to say that being a Christian and luxuriating in this beauty are almost one and the same.

***

But there is more, hidden beneath the filigree.

Isaiah continues: “Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?”

What is this? The poetry is still beautiful. But the words challenge our understanding. He just said, “You who have no money” – and now talks about how we spend our wages. He offers us wine and milk, then tells us that what is not bread fails to satisfy.

Two chapters after our Gospel reading, Jesus will tell the disciples, “O ye of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves, because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, neither remember the  loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? . . . Then they understood how he did not warn them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Mt 16:8-9, 12).

He’s not talking about bread.

***

Indeed, our reading from Romans asks, “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will . . . famine . . . ? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.”

The answer is not, “you will never face famine, because Christ can multiply bread.” The answer is, “Neither death, nor life . . . nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The funny thing about our reading from Isaiah is that when he says, “Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?” it is bread itself that fails to satisfy. “I have food to eat that you know not of . . . . My food is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (Jn 4:32, 34).

Or as our reading from Isaiah says, “listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant.” The “rich fare” he offers is not material bread, but “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The real gift of Jesus is not the bread, but his healing mercy. The bread only shows us what he offers, and his power to provide. But he provides so much more than bread.

***

Incongruously (it seems) our Gospel reading begins, “When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” What do the five loaves and two fish have to do with the death of John the Baptist?

John preached repentance, died in fact for steadfastly preaching repentance even to the king. He preached that God is worth giving up everything first.

And so John went out to the wilderness, the deserted places, drawing others after him, to live not for bread but for God alone.

Jesus goes to the wilderness to preach God alone. And there in the wilderness, to all who will follow him there, leaving all else behind, Jesus provides every necessity and every good thing.

In the wilderness of repentance, they discover the rich fare of God’s mercy.

What obstacles prevent you from following Jesus to the wilderness?