Today’s Gospel reading from Mark 1 tells us that, before the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus went into the desert for forty days, where he was tempted by Satan. This notion of forty is found throughout the Scriptures. Noah endured forty days of rain that flooded the earth. The Israelite people went into the desert and wandered for forty years. Moses fasted on the mountain for forty days before receiving the Ten Commandments. This forty days for Jesus was his time of testing. That is why Lent is also…forty days!
Lent should be our trip into the desert. Many are afraid of the desert. I speak, of course, euphemistically. We don’t like the dryness. We like everything to be flowers and rainbows all the time. But that’s not how life is. We all have desert experiences. And, more often than not, those times in the desert are times when we experience the greatest growth in our spiritual lives. The times where, once we have gotten through our time of testing, we can grow in grace and love and come out on the other side as better Christians.
So this Lent, let’s embrace the desert. Let’s go in with eyes wide open, knowing that this is not going to be an easy thing. But also knowing that, if we press on, much fruit will be borne. God wants that for us. Do we have the courage to want that for ourselves?
Father, as we enter more deeply into this desert experience, we pray that you will give us all the grace we need to pass the tests we encounter. Help us to grow in love and obedience to you. Amen.
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