Posted this on Feb. 15, 2005. It will still work as a reflection on the gospel for the First Sunday of Lent.
An old Zen story tells of a contest between two Zen masters over which one was most enlightened. (Just as in Christianity, enlightenment, an overwhelming spiritual experience, brings only a limited degree of perfection.) The second Zen master won the contest when he announced “I eat (only) when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired and drink when I’m thirsty." To be enlightened, the story says, is to be so in touch with one’s body and emotions that one’s appetites are under conscious control. To be more fully enlightened is to eat, not out of habit, but in response to genuine bodily hunger. An enlightened person need not have anxiety interfere with sleep. Many Buddhists will credit Jesus with being enlightened. Yet we read in Sunday’s gospel that he was hungry and did not eat. Why?