READINGS: GENESIS 9: 8-15; I PETER 3: 18-22; MARK 1: 12-15.
Remember the last time you traveled through a desert; perhaps it was the Mohave Desert or that Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico. Do you remember what you experienced? If you are like most people what was most striking is the seemingly barren, dry landscape, devoid of lush trees and radiant green grasses. A wasteland and one which most of us want to drive through as fast as possible on the way to somewhere else.
While harsh and seemingly devoid of life deserts are, in reality, filled with a variety of plants, animals, and birds as life is reduced to basics as water is so lacking.
Throughout the history of the Church mystics and monks have re-located to deserts in order to pray and find God; a desert was a place where distractions were few and life was always in a balance.
Today, in the Gospel of Mark we learn of Jesus going off to the desert to pray and enduring temptation, which He overcame as an example to us. But in the desert, He is not alone as the Holy Spirit accompanied him.
So, what does all this talk of deserts have to do with us, who mostly live in large urban areas? If you think about the last year we can be seen as being in a desert- filled with uncertainties, doubts, contrasts to normal times, and where we are re-examining our lives to focus on basics. This can be hard, can lead to confusion, anger, and, at times, despair; these are normal responses to the desert. But today’s Gospel reminds us that the key to journeying through any desert is to focus on basics: faith in God and loving others, and reminding ourselves that we are never alone. The Holy Spirit always travels with us to help us overcome temptations and to live, even in time of the desert. So today let us thank God for this time, for the Holy Spirit, and ask ourselves how we can love God and others more deeply during the NOW.
Please support Mission Doctors whose ministry is often filled with uncertainty and trouble as they bring healing. God bless you and Happy First Sunday of Lent!
Brother John Kielser, OFM