We don’t talk about idolatry much anymore, despite the caution against it in everything from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament epistles. This is ironic, because idolatry flourishes in our culture.
As Luke tells the story, even though Jesus doesn’t turn stones to bread, he feeds those who hunger. And even though he says no when Satan offers him political power, a vision of God’s all-encompassing reign of shalom is at the heart of Jesus’ ministry.
There’s irony and paradox in hearing Jesus’ instruction to carry out our religious practice in relative privacy—along with the proclamation of Joel 2—on Ash Wednesday. How on earth do we balance the quietness of our hearts with a public call to repentance?