Thursday after Ash Wednesday
The desert is a dry, hot, and barren place where few people would be physically comfortable for an extended period of time. Why would Jesus enter the desert for forty days in preparation for His public ministry? Why not enter the most restful, comfortable, and consoling place possible? Jesus’ choice to prepare for His public ministry in the desert defies our natural human reason because, unlike Jesus’ divine intellect, our natural human reason is deeply affected by the fallenness of our state of Original Sin. But Jesus could see clearly. Furthermore, His choice to enter the desert does not defy our fallen human reason when we allow supernatural wisdom to elevate us.
As you begin your Lenten journey, try to dismiss any temptation to do only that which immediately makes sense to you or feels good. Seek out divine wisdom for this journey. If an aspect of Jesus’ forty days is difficult, endure it anyway. In our fallenness, we seek comfort, not discomfort; indulgence, not sacrifice; fullness, not privation; and selfishness, not selflessness. Jesus’ choice to enter the desert should teach us that the best is often found in that which our confused human reason perceives as the worst. This lesson is found in almost everything Jesus taught in the Gospels, especially in His choice to freely embrace suffering and death.
To truly enter the “desert” with our Lord this Lent, we must first identify those things that we regularly crave, pursue, and are attached to. Often, these are the greatest obstacles to the authentic freedom our souls long to have, even if those things are not sinful in and of themselves. Entering the desert is the process of letting go of our inordinate attachments so as to prepare ourselves to embrace more fully the only things that can satisfy: God and His perfect will. It is true freedom that we must seek. It is not an easy journey. In fact, it is as painful as the idea of physically going into a desert for forty days without food to face every temptation the evil one throws our way. Though our fallen human nature will initially rebel against such an idea, divine Wisdom tells us it is the only way to what we long for in the deepest core of our beings.
Reflect upon your fallen human nature and its disordered cravings and desires. Once you identify some of your regular temptations, think about Jesus in the desert. Was He happy there? Was He content without the many comforts this world offers? Was He at peace? Most certainly He was. Despite experiencing the desolation of the desert and the afflictions the evil one thrust upon Him, Jesus saw through the temptations and many traps fallen humanity experiences, and He navigated through them all. The satisfaction our Lord had in His human soul by denying Himself all that this world had to offer, so as to be in communion with the will of His Father, produced more human satisfaction than every comfort and indulgence imaginable. The same end awaits you if you choose to follow Jesus into the desert this Lent.
My desolate Lord, You entered the desert and freely chose to endure this time of separation from all that this fallen world has to offer. You were hungry, alone, and without comforts, yet Your divine soul was fully satisfied. Your food was Your communion with Your Father in Heaven. Lord, I have many attachments in this life. There are many things that I desire more than I desire You. Please make this Lent a time in which I can see those attachments and be freed of them so that I can begin to experience the joy of a deeper union with You and Your Father. Jesus, I trust in You.