First Sunday of Lent

March 9, 2019 | Mary Agnes Patterson, OSB

In the Gospel we just heard, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and was led into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil. Lent has just begun, and already I am lost on the journey to follow Jesus. I am too insecure and comfortable to follow you Jesus into the desert. I am reliant on my feeling of belonging to my family and community. I am comfortable in the safety of my home knowing I will have food to eat and a place to sleep each day.

I cannot go into the desert – there are too many unknowns and dangers, and I am afraid. But I know I have been in the desert many times in my life. For a minute go with me to one of the deserts you have encountered in your journey through life.

My deserts have been caused by loss of loved ones through death or loss of my self-confidence through failure or life changes or other loses. I have eventually come through the deserts, and most of the time I have come through stronger and more trusting of God.

While going through the deserts, I come to know again that often God does not do what I want or what I pray for because God’s ways are not my ways. I usually feel helpless and out of control. I am led to trust that God loves me and cares for me even when I am down and out.

I know and you know that there are times in our lives when we are led into the desert – most likely not of our choosing. This time of Lent may be a desert time for some and not for others. Somehow during these forty days, maybe we will be able to learn anew and experience the three wisdom teaching of Jesus from his time in the desert:

“One does not live on bread alone.”

You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.”

“You shall not put the Lord, your God to the test.”

May our efforts at fasting, prayer and service during this Lent bring us closer to Jesus. May we be filled with the grace of God to venture beyond our comfort zones into a deeper relationship with God. May God grant us the inner strength and courage to live in hope knowing that in God’s love we are being led together to the fullness of life in union with all our brothers and sisters in the world.

I pray you each have a blessed Lent. I pray we will see the beauties in the desert and the signs of new life and growth not seen beyond the desert. Let us each choose life and joy and live in the hope of St. Benedict as we look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.