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Congregation for the Clergy: The Spirit Drove Jesus into the Desert. Now it is our Turn

By Congregation for the Clergy
February 27th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Having introduced the season of Lent with the imposition of ashes, the Church today points out the path for us to journey along.   She also tells us the nature of this journey and how we might go about following it.The Gospel reading shows us how the journey of Lent consists in letting ourselves be led into the desert, allowing ourselves to remain there for forty days, and challenging ourselves to face the temptations of satan. 

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - "The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by satan" (Mk 1:12-13). 

Having introduced the season of Lent with the imposition of ashes, the Church today points out the path for us to journey along.   She also tells us the nature of this journey and how we might go about following it.

The Gospel reading shows us how the journey of Lent consists in letting ourselves be led into the desert, allowing ourselves to remain there for forty days, and challenging ourselves to face the temptations of satan.  It is like the Exodus of Israel towards the Promised Land; it is the exodus of humanity with each of us journeying as pilgrims towards heaven. 

We don't look forward to this journey for its own sake, but we are led along it by Another.  The journey is signposted by our combat with the temptation of Satan and - with all that implies in terms of fatigue and suffering.  It is a long journey which only our sure hope allows us to undertake with faith and courage.

The nature of this Lenten journey is revealed in the collect, the opening prayer, addressed to God, Our Father, that "we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effect".

This Lenten journey is a "sacramental sign" of our conversion. What does this mean?  "Sacramental sign" means that on this road, that is common to every man, God has preceded us and has done something for us and now He asks us to play our part. He has already fulfilled this journey of conversion for us.

The model to follow is Jesus Christ. "The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert."   It is Christ, true God and true Man, "the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous" (1 Pt 3:18) who has taken upon Himself our sins and by His free choice, as He was without sin and totally immune to it, has decided to also face our temptations. 

St Augustine wrote: "Christ took his flesh from you and in return gave you the salvation that resides in him; he took your death for himself and gave you his life; he took the share you deserved and gave you the honor  that was his. Consequently, he took your temptation and gave you his victory." (Comm in Ps., 60).

It is not asked of us, therefore, to make this journey simply by 'doing likewise'.  There would be nothing new in that, because, whether we like it or not, our daily life is already like this with all its hard work and hopes! 

We are asked, in fact, to welcome what is new about Lent: the Other on this path, who is our companion, who has already journeyed on the path of the Exodus, and who has associated us, by our Baptism, with His Victory.

We are all called to stay close to Christ, giving over everything to him - our flesh, our sin, our humiliations, and our temptations - so that we can receive back so much more.  He offers us His Salvation, His Life, His Glory, His Victory! 

Let's, therefore,  give everything  to the Lord in the great gift of sacramental Confession, in Eucharistic adoration and in frequent Communion, where Jesus takes our entirety  and gives us His Very Self. Let us trust everything to our "greatest friend", that God has placed at our side.

And so we offer all our sacrifices and hardships to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, because she who is the treasurer of heaven, will distribute to humanity the merits of her Son.  Obtain for us, we pray, O Mary, that we will keep our eyes fixed on Christ so to defeat, along with Him, the temptations of satan and thus gain the gift of Eternal Life.  Amen.

Citations of
Gn 9,8-15:   www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9ammqbi.htm
 www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9avumli.htm
1P 3,18-22:   www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9a10zqc.htm 
Mk 1,12-15:    www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9asrrqa.htm 
 www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9avun0a.htm 

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