I am not just a social worker
This is a passage from Fulton J Sheen’s book, “Life of Christ,” which spoke so loudly to me when I read it during Lent because I think it sums up a problem that keeps surfacing in the church today. It’s a commentary on the temptation of Christ in the desert where Satan tempts Him to turn stones into bread, and Jesus replies…that ” man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Our Lord was not denying that men must be fed, or that social justice must be preached; but He was asserting that these things are not first.
He was, in effect, saying to Satan, “You tempt Me to a religion which would relieve want; you want Me to be a baker, instead of a Savior; to be a social reformer, instead of a Redeemer.
You are tempting Me away from My Cross, suggesting that I be a cheap leader of people, filling their bellies instead of their souls. You would have Me begin with security instead of ending with it; you would have Me bring outer abundance instead of inner holiness.
You and your materialist followers say, ‘Man lives by bread alone,’ but I say to you, ‘Not by bread alone’. Bread there must be, but remember even bread gets all its power to nourish mankind from Me.
Bread without Me can harm man; and there is no real security apart from the Word of God. If I give bread alone, then man is no more than an animal, and dogs might as well come first to My banquet. Those who believe in Me must hold to that faith, even when they are starved and weak; even when they are imprisoned and scourged.
“I know about human hunger! I have gone without food Myself for forty days. But I refuse to become a mere social reformer who caters only to the belly.
You cannot say that I am unconcerned with social justice, for I am feeling at this moment the hunger of the world. I am One with every poor, starving member of the race. That is why I have fasted: so that they can never say that God does not know what hunger is.
I am not just a social worker who has never been hungry Himself, but One who says,
‘I reject any plan which promises to make men richer without making them holier.’
Remember! I Who say, ‘Not by bread alone’, have not tasted bread for forty days!”
—Life of Christ, Fulton J Sheen pg. 71
It’s both and…
soul and the problem of sin, hence the cross of Christ….