“Is that all there is?” It’s an old song but an even older question. “Is that all there is?” I saw a commercial on TV the other evening. A well-dressed, 60-ish man was telling the viewer not to stop dreaming just because you’re over 65. I’m not really sure what product the commercial was selling but what stayed with me was the look on that man’s face. He was following his dream at an age when many people are tempted to believe that they’re too old to dream. The passion in his voice declared that, for him,“that” was definitely NOT all there is! He was passionate about life and it showed.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is led by the devil out into the desert to be tempted and to see what Jesus is passionate about. Jesus is hungry. He hasn’t eaten in 40 days. Perhaps he will be passionate about food? That certainly wouldn’t be unexpected, as anyone who has ever been on a diet can attest. But Jesus is not passionate about food. His passion is to give himself as bread for others.
Perhaps, then, power and glory might be Jesus’ passion? All one has to do is pick up a newspaper or turn on the television during this election season to see rivalries over power and glory play out on the national stage as political candidates vie for office. But Jesus is not passionate about power and glory. Rather, his passion is to stoop down and wash feet.
Danger, then perhaps Jesus will be passionate about risk-taking, a kind of biblical stock trader or NASCAR driver? But Jesus is not passionate about taking risks, either. His passion is more about calming stormy seas and healing injured travelers.
“You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Do we believe that? Are we as passionate as the man in that commercial about what we believe? Or are we tempted to care more about the size of our waistline or of our bank account? “Is that all there is?” I guess it all depends on what our “that” is …
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.