Our first reading from Genesis always reminds me of the old joke of why fishing off the side of the Ark was not allowed by Noah. His family stated: “Why Not!” (You know the answer!) that’s right, because he only had 2 worms!
Let’s look at our gospel first. It’s short, but it really does set the foundation as we begin our Lenten journey together.
The Spirit DROVE Him out into the desert! The word ‘drove’ suggests that he was being forced to go. This same Spirit who was made present at His baptism. It is sort-of like what we have been experiencing for the last 12 months, it feels like we have been in a full-year of Lent. And now, the Church is forcing us to go to the desert once again. Lent offers us a ‘desert’ experience. God and the Church is telling all of us, that the next 40 days are needed.
Israel was ‘forced’ to spend 40 years in the desert, and they gave into temptations many times along their journey. Jesus spends 40 days in the desert and remains strong and defiant against all temptations. Those temptations were real!! You may be thinking “well, there’s a big difference between 40 years and 40 days!” Okay, so if 40 days are so much easier, then I’ll have no problem keeping to my Lenten sacrifices. I can see it now; I can’t wait to do my grocery shopping for the first time this Lent… “Do I skip the candy, cookie, and ice cream aisles, or do I simply speed up my grocery cart as I pass through?” “Why does steak always seem tempting on a “Friday” during Lent? Etc., etc., etc.
The Gospel continues, John the Baptist has done what he is supposed to do…The Baptist, the Prophet, and the Herald!
Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming that the world needs to repent and announces that The Kingdom of God is at hand. When we received ‘Ashes’ on Ash Wednesday, the prayer that I stated was:
Repent, and Believe in the Gospel!
Basically, it translates into acknowledging who we are (sinners), and acknowledging who God is (the One who loves us and offers us a way out of our sinfulness).
In Genesis we hear of the Covenant between God and Noah (and his descendants) that the sign of the ‘Rainbow’ would always remind them that God was with them and that they would have no need to fear him.
The Gospel (The Good News of Jesus) gives us the Final Covenant, marked by the Cross and the Eucharist… acts of love and forgiveness!
As 1 Peter states:
Jesus, the perfectly just one, died for the sake of unjust humanity. But he has won the victory over death.
God saved Noah and his family in the days of the flood. By the grace of God, we are saved through the waters of Baptism.
We pray to God to change us as God sees fit this Lent, drawing us ever closer to unity with God’s will.
We’re in this desert together, continue to pray and support one another. Think about attending the Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 6pm. Possibly attend the Divine Mercy Holy Hour on either February 28th or March 28th. Or just come by our church and sit before the Blessed Sacrament in our Tabernacle. Saint Rose is open 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week. Or think and pray for those confined to their homes or places of residence, where they have been for the last 12 months.
When our Lenten Journey is over, when we come out of the desert, let us together proclaim with our entire being:
The Kingdom of God is at Hand!