My parish choir sang a hymn on Ash Wednesday that described Lent as a “sacred struggle.” What a beautiful and thought-provoking phrase. It suggests that Lent is not a time for putting up a front of spiritual tranquility. It’s not a time for pretending everything is rosy and perfect.
Think of Lent as a pilgrimage—a journey—and not necessarily an easy one. It’s time to dig deep. To walk in the desert with Jesus.
Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit out into the parched wilderness to be tempted, tested and prepared, just as the ancient Israelites wandered the desert so many years before, in preparation for their entry into the Promised Land. We are called to make this same 40-day journey. To be tested, prepared, and renewed. To encounter God in new ways. And to ultimately be transformed by the experience.
Let us approach this Lenten season as an opportunity to embrace that which is difficult. To face temptations. To examine our personal failings. To reveal our doubts. To work through blocks and barriers to our faith.
Don’t be afraid to walk through the desert. You are not alone in the journey. When you encounter thirst and drought, cry out to God to quench your spirit. Know, without a doubt, that God will answer. “They were not thirsty when he led them through the deserts; he divided the rock, and water gushed out for them to drink.” (Isaiah 48:21)
A desert journey is not a time of punishment, but a time of strengthening. Jesus left his time in the wilderness with a renewed and strengthened spirit to begin preaching the message that the Kingdom of Heaven was near. (Matthew 4:17) Your time in the desert will lead you closer to that Kingdom. To a place of deeper connection to our Divine Creator. To a greater understanding of the gifts we receive – brought to fruition with the Resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday.
May your Lenten journey be blessed, as you come out of the desert with a renewed spirit. Amen.