Luke 4: 1-13
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert and was tempted
This Lent, I find myself thinking about the many ways we have been dwelling in the desert space, a space to which Jesus is summoned in today’s Gospel. As we have been adapting to the ups and downs of Covid restrictions, it is as though “little by little” the desert has been encroaching on our lives. The COVID pandemic, like winds across sand, has shifted the contours within which we have lived, and the patterns that mark our day-to-day lives. Time has been warped.
Planning and the way forward come slowly and tentatively. Our day-to-day routines and work schedules have been continuously shifting. Our relationships have been largely sustained within the frustrating limits of “virtual space.” As with a desert-induced mirage, we often find ourselves struggling with the overwhelming experience of unrealness.
Yet, Lent, 2022, invites US to go into the desert WITH JESUS.
I want, say in response to this invitation, “What? I already have shoes full of sand! I am not taking one step further!”
Nonetheless, and with no consolation, the Gospel this Sunday reminds us that there is a necessary struggle awaiting us in the desert called “Lent.” Necessary, because engaging the personal struggle that is ours, is always about entrusting our lives to God more completely, and preparing to receive the gift of Easter transformation more fully.
The invitation this Lent is to look carefully, and contemplatively at the sand that has been accumulating in our shoes. As you shake yours out, notice what it is that has been gradually taking up space in your life. As yourself, “what has been weighing me down?” Consider, “what has become increasingly uncomfortable to live with?” As you do so, listen for the call within your inner desire for greater and greater integrity. Have courage. Make a response.
The temptation to “leave it alone” is always with us. As uncomfortable as it may be, we can always convince ourselves that “after all, walking in sand-filled shoes is not so bad.”
As we put on or take off our shoes countless times in these next 40 days, let’s remember to pause, and in whatever way that is meaningful for us, “shake out the sand.”
Let’s make a resolution to walk with greater freedom this Lenten season. Let’s pray for one another as we do so. Let’s open ourselves to the grace of encountering God who is with us in the desert, and who loves to hear the sound of sand falling from our shoes.
Sr. Arlene Flaherty, OP