The Spirit “drove” Jesus out into the desert
Today is the First Sunday of Lent. In the Gospel, Mark tells us the Spirit “drove” Jesus out into the desert—and Jesus stayed there for 40 days. Drove is a strong word. Jesus was not sent or led, but driven! Can you think of a time someone or something drove you into barrenness of sorts? It couldn’t have been a pleasant experience. Yet Jesus stayed in the
desert for 40 days.
Biblical writers use techniques and images to tell us something without writing it all out. Think of the number 40 in terms of our faith. Can you recall other “40’s”? In today’s first reading we hear about Noah and his family and the great flood. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights!
In the Book of Exodus, we hear that Moses led the Israelites out of the slavery of Egypt to freedom. In between times they spent 40 years wandering in the desert. Now today we hear that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert—as we enter into 40 days of Lent!
This numerical tool tells us more than the number 40 does. They are telling us that “40” means “long enough.” For Noah and his family, 40 days and nights of rain were
“long enough” to cleanse the world of sin and allow creation to have a fresh start. The 40 years in the desert for Moses and the Israelites was “long enough” for them to strengthen their relationship with God and to learn to live together in love. They learned to help each other remember what was really important—their relationship with God and with one another. Jesus’ 40 days in the desert preceded the beginning of his public ministry. This
time was “long enough” to help Jesus prepare for the work of salvation for which he came.
In the same fashion, the Church designates 40 days of Lent as “long enough” for us to take a serious look at our lives, identify areas that need our committed attention in changing habits or actions that are sinful and to work to change and grow in love of God and in love of others.
As you leave church today, you will find Rice Bowls in the entry ways. Please take one home and use it as a reminder of your 40 day journey with God. The Catholic Relief Services website has many wonderful resources for individuals and families on this Lenten journey. I
recommend checking out some videos—especially one by Dr. Carolyn Woo. Here is the link you can use to access them. https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=JiR2Dw7QdSM
May this Lent be long enough for you to renew your spirit and refresh your commitment to life with Christ!