Vocation Meditation -
After Jesus was baptized, the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the Angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God, and saying, "The Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
"The sojourn in the desert is a time of ambivalence: an opportunity for special closeness with God, a time of "first love," but also a time of aridity, want and clouds that obscure heaven.
With the recurring number of 40, a spiritual atmosphere is described which remains relevant and valid. And the Church, precisely through these days of Lent, intends to preserve their enduring value and to make their efficacy present for us. The Christian liturgy during Lent seeks to promote a path of spiritual renewal in light of this long biblical experience, above all for the sake of learning to imitate Jesus, who during the 40 days he spent in the desert, taught us to conquer temptation with the Word of God.
The 40 years of Israel wandering in the desert was a time of ambivalent attitudes and situations. On the one hand, they are the season of first love with God, and between God and his people, when he speaks to their hearts, pointing out to them the path to follow. God, as it were, had taken up his abode with Israel; he went before them in a cloud and a column of fire; each day, he provided for their nourishment by making manna descend from the heavens and by making water gush forth from the rock. Therefore, the years Israel passed in the desert can be seen as the time of their being especially chosen by God and of their clinging to him: the time of first love.
Nevertheless, those 40 years are also the time of the greatest temptation and peril, when Israel murmurs against her God and wishes to return to paganism and to build her own idols, out of the need she feels to worship a God who is closer and more tangible.
Jesus' 40 days in the desert are a time of profound union with the Father, but also a time when Jesus is exposed to danger and is assailed by temptation and the seduction of the Evil One, who proposes another Messianic way, one distant from God's design, for it passes by way of power, success, and domination and not by way of the total gift of the cross. In this desert, we who believe, certainly have the opportunity to have a profound experience of God, who "strengthens the spirit, confirms the faith, nourishes hope and inspires charity."
General Audience: Pope Benedict XVI's Ash Wednesday Reflections.
"He was in the wilderness forty days."
How have I experienced God's closeness when the 'Spirit drove me into the wilderness' of confusing voices that tried to pull me away from following Jesus?"
Your loving ways of winning our hearts have their ambivalent sides. You send me into darkness that I may appreciate the light of Your face. You call me into solitude and silence that I may be sensitive to Your voice. You send me pain and sorrow that I may discover the glory of Your redeeming love. Take me in, into Your mysterious ways, Lord. When the wilderness of temptations confuse me, speak within me. Let your Spirit guide me. Amen.