HIS innards running amok, brain likely howling in hallucination at the 40th day of zero food intake—read: prolonged hunger strike, fasting—the Son of Man must have been in a mood to resort to looting, pig out on whatever morsel edible that a spread of desert desolation can proffer. Instead, He opted to show by deed what it takes to strike a hard bargain, pointing up author Paulo Coelho’s aphorism: “The world is changed by example, not by opinion.”
He rebuffed the attempt tempting Him to transmute stones into loaves to hush hunger, with words that any truant at Sunday school learns by heart, but very much forgotten these days: “Man does not live by bread alone.”
He won’t give in to visceral cravings so the tempter takes Him to a high place. Then, an offer for wealth, fame, political power in exchange for bowing down to worship Mammon. Again, the tempter’s offer is turned down.
The last try at temptation was to nudge the Son of Man to ply a silly stunt—throw Himself off a cliff, just to see if angels would come pronto to the rescue. He gave the tempter a thorough tongue lashing for mouthing such an inane suggestion.
Infinite knowledge plus carnal knowledge of the world’s most beautiful woman, Helen of Troy—Faust the Magus hocked his soul for these and so gave his name to the so-called “Faustian bargain” that every man or woman enters into to gain their heart’s desire.
For the desperate, the bargain can be for lean pickings—an armful of groceries or such looted off a store shelf, a warehouse stockpile, maybe, a neighbor’s pantry. It’s too easy to acquiesce to the nudge of the stomach.
For a Malacañang Palace top occupant, the bargain can be for a trillion or so in pesos lumped in funds for a so-called Development Acceleration Program (DAP). And just maybe, the putative “tuwid na daan” was what the Australian rock band AC/DC had in mind in their signature number about a highway paved with good intentions.
Maybe, the bargain can be for ovine submission of a city, a town, a village, a stretch of a street or a huge chunk of any geography for those consumed by delusions of power and whims of a gangster. A wannabe 2016 Palace top transient snapped the tempting bait offering power.
These days, the Faustian tradeoff is predictably for lucre—it took years for a Janet Lim-Napoles to hoard P10 billion representing less than a third of a larger largesse that her accomplices secreted away. Such a huge sum isn’t even enough to hire health professionals or buy medications to shuck hypertension and its attendant plague of ills slowly tearing away at her insides.
In the fable about two desert travelers, one wished for a boulder of gold—got his wish and was dragged dead by the leaden weight he bore. The other asked for the knowledge to turn anything to gold; his wish was granted and all he had to carry as he made it to safer parts was the not-so-tangible know-how in his head.
The character Solomon the Wise settled for the unpopular choice—wisdom, because he had to serve a people. He declined the other choices he was offered, military prowess with which to build empires or boundless wealth to enjoy. It turned out that with wisdom came conquest of empires and immeasurable wealth— the 300 or so concubines he was gifted with and the legions of demons he had under his command to build his temple were just add-ons.
We are a Christian nation that unrepentantly bargains its soul for filthy lucre. Sad.