“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4.1) (See Mt 4.1 and Mk 1.12)
As I read this text, one word stuck out for me: “in”: “led by the Spirit IN the wilderness”…(In Matthew and Mark, the translation reads ‘into’). ‘INTO’ says that he was led toward the desert. ‘IN’ implies that he is already there, and that the Spirit is with him throughout his time in that apparently uninhabited space.
In this desert space, Jesus is not alone, however. Here, Jesus basks in the love of the Father and is guided by the Spirit. The whole Trinity is there! Even Satan found a way in, to dissuade Jesus from the purpose of preparing for his coming mission. These 40 days give Jesus space to pray, to reflect, and to ‘arm’ himself for the struggles and difficulties to come.
I believe every person experiences wilderness or desert times in life – in varying lengths and intensity, even in the middle of a multitude, in the midst of a busy life. Such moments can become stumbling blocks on our journey and can seriously lead us away from the source of our being. Temptations are attractive, very desirable to experience.
On the other hand, we can use these occasions to turn to prayer, to inner reflection on our life so as to make the best choices possible. We have only to remember that God is with us, the Spirit is there to guide us and strengthen us. Thus we can become more connected with the very depths of our being, of cherishing God’s infinite love and mercy. Lent is one of these moments that invite us to take stock, to see how we can re-orient ourselves.
On Ash Wednesday, we picked up the tools of Prayer, of Fasting and of Charitable giving in order to till the soil of our inner being, of our relationship with God, and with all of creation. . Today, we begin to use these tools to plant the seeds which will come to fruition at Easter. As we remember broken areas in our lives we are gifted with the Word of God, with the strength of God’s love, with the support of others on the journey with us. These are useful tools and supports that ground us on the journey!
When we come face to face with our brokenness, recognize it, and take steps for repair and growth, we can experience inner newness. This can be scary! The Status quo is comfortable and familiar. Why change? Change is inevitable for growth. In our emptiness we become able to receive the source of all being, of love and mercy. Letting go enables us to take hold of something new, better able to move on. These “little deaths” can open up to great joy and wonder. As the seed dies to itself, our brokenness can open us up to new life.
“O God, in my moments of disarray, of brokenness, of bad choices, please sustain me as I open up to your infinite mercy and love. Help me to seize moments during this time of Lent, so as to experience the joy of the Resurrection.”
Submitted by Sr. Janice Fournier, pm