“It’s not much, I know, what with slums and the dubious types
who eat at the better tables. Still one can whine forever, can’t one? Take what comes when it’s ripe,
I say. Pleasure’s no evil if taken as a sign
That life is good. There IS an ease one finds
In this place: the limited joys that come with largess. I’ve come to like it, a shock, perhaps from a mind
Once filled with higher saws. Welcome … to “The Best We Can Do.’ Allow me to pour you a middling sherry. The decanter is chipped, but the maids are lively,
And, if you allow, performers will keep us merry.
I’ll call for a tweedler, one who knows his craft.” “You serve yourself at table, eat your tail,
While my quiet lovers reach, even now for the nails.”
(This is a resetting by David Craig of Satan’s third temptation:
offering Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor)
I love it when a story gets reworked. It gives me pause. Here is an old familiar one, if you grew up in church circles. Revisited…
It’s always been a curious thing to me, the story of Jesus’ Temptation. First of all, it’s sort of an oxymoron. Is it possible that Jesus was tempted, Truly? Hebrews indicates yes. In fact one prof who loved the book said he thought Jesus experienced Temptation 150% compared to us at maybe 20%.
I don’t really know how that theology works; but I do know that this story is included in the book. When I write, I think about Story. I think about what has shaped me, and I think about what will impact those who read my words. So I don’t think it’s there accidentally.
Then there’s this. It sounds like he offers him all the kingdoms of the world. When I think about the kingdom we live in right now, I would say you can have it. No thank you. Wherever you land politically, it’s been a tough year.
So how was that really a Temptation?
And then, if you hold to the idea that a supreme being is all powerful, and that’s what Jesus was, then why was this something he wanted from someone else?
Lots of questions, few answers.
Maybe that’s Lent.
Space to sit in the questions.
Room for silence.
Sounds about right.
Source: Matthew 4:8-11, by David Craig,
A Praying the Gospels through Poetry: Lent to Easter,
Peggy Rosenthal, St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2001.
From the Lenten Poetry Companion, Mystic Activists, Neighborhood Ministries