I am thinking about hunger lately, and how to sate it. You could say I have that in common with both Eve and Jesus in the readings for this first Sunday in Lent. We’re hungry. In my case, I don’t even really mean metaphysically hungry. I mean I’m thinking about lunch. (I won’t speak for the two of them, who may have had a bit more on the mind, to be fair.) As a breastfeeding mother, I’m insatiable—at least as insatiable as my almost-nine-month-old. The science suggests that when nursing a child, a person expends about 500 extra calories a day, and that by other metrics the toll is even greater: my body dedicates more energy, for example, toward producing milk for my son than it does to keep my heart beating or my brain firing. Conservative estimates indicate that in a single year, I’ll spend 1,800 hours breastfeeding. That’s just shy of a forty-hour work week, sans any two-week vacation.
Needless to say, I’m exempt from any fasting this Lent. And thank God. A feast can barely keep me full.
In Genesis and the Gospel, the devil suggests some options to sate his interlocutors’ hungers. An apple, bread. Eve bites and, as we know, “undoing the transgression,” Christ declines.
A unique ruin was hidden in the otherwise plain prospects of fruit and loaf. In the story, Eve’s bite brought about hers—and ours too—but Christ understood the poison behind the promise of bread. This, again, I find relatable, though (again), not for especially spiritual reasons.