First Sunday in Lent
OF GOD – Holy Spirit, drive me deep into the desert of my
soul so that in confronting my sinfulness I may be purified by
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the
desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by
Satan. (Mk 1:12)
When we accept that invitation to
follow Christ, we will be confronted with our own sinfulness and the
enormous sense of unworthiness. Look at the example of Peter
after the accepting Jesus’ invitation and the miraculous catch of
fish; “Depart from me, Lord for I am a sinful man.”
Yet we are not alone in our
sinfulness. Jesus like us in all things but sin underwent the
same temptations that we do. He was driven into the desert for
40 days to be tempted by Satan. A period of forty was considered to
be a sacred time. It was a time Yahweh used before major
changes and transformations.
The 40 days of rain with Noah, Moses
fasting for 40 days before receiving the 10 commandments, the 40
years the Israelites were in the desert before entering the promised
land. The desert is the place for confronting our sinfulness
and allowing God to purify us. Jesus spent that time in prayer,
fasting, and solitude and so should we. And in that solitude,
we not only grow closer to God, but also learn more about ourselves
in the process, because as we draw closer to God, we also experience
the increased attention of the Deceiver, who tries to draw us away
from God even as we try to grow closer. Jesus experienced this
in his 40 days, and we will as well. Yet our faith and love
cannot be strengthened unless it is tested, and this is what the
desert is for.
Resolve this Lent to find a place of
solitude, a desert, where you can go to pray for at least an hour
each day. A place to sit in silence with the Lord. Spend
some time with our Lord in the chapel. Allow the light of
Christ to penetrate into every nook and cranny of your soul, exposing
what is imperfect and problematic in you. Pay attention to what
temptations you experience. Is it to sensual pleasures?
To power? To be honored by others? It is through
those temptations that we learn what areas of our lives need grace
the most. As we become aware of those problem areas in our lives,
take them to the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we receive the
grace to overcome them.
Jesus spent those 40 days preparing
for His mission, so too must we use these 40 days of Lent to prepare
for ours. To be ready to do His will no matter what is asked of
Come Holy Spirit, fill me with
grace. Send me into the silence of the desert. Help me in
my prayer and fasting to confront the temptations that arise from my
sinful nature. Give me the grace to grow in humility so that I
recognize my own misery and my need for mercy. Deepen my faith
so that I may always have the confidence to ask recourse to God.
Let me also, not be discouraged by my continual failings.
Help me to realize that the real evil is not in falling as in
failing to rise again. Let me in my temptations and sinfulness,
cry out as the 10 lepers cried; Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.