First Sunday of Lent: “At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1
God promised that he would be with us, not that life will be easy. This promise comes even for his own son who became fully human. So often prayer and faith life is seen has medicine to take to receive a healing, be resolved of the sickness. But the reality we are reminded with in today’s Gospel and in the season of Lent: these things of faith and prayer are to help us carry the burden. Our humanity will try to find ways to avoid it and the devil is at the ready with many solutions. AND in the many solutions, he will provide amazing justifications on how these ideas are basically the same as what God is asking of your life (spoiler alert: they are not). As Catholics we do not need to view our times in the desert as punishments, but rather the reality of where our lives currently stand and an opportunity to lean on God. That is when the seasons of trial turn to a life of blessings: God will meet you, He can turn all things to good, and we can declare our commitment to faith. These deserts and crosses are not to be feared but embraced and carried. Or more realistically, turn to God for grace to then embrace life as it is, so we can then carry the burden.
For most of my life and especially most of my marriage I prayed for healing: CF, individual wounds, financial pressures, uncertain resources, infertility. It was absolution I sought and I thought it would be gained with fervent prayer and continued hope and joy in the face of afflictions. My thought was it is a cross to bear, until the situation is healed. The healing came through different times and different answers, but also did not conclude with absolution for all the struggle, resulting in “making it”. In fact many of the provided blessings brought on more challenges to be managed: transplant life, career success, and parenthood. They were answers to prayers, but did not guarantee an easy life with every worry addressed.
Now in the season of the largest desert, I am learning that facing the reality of the situation is not facing failure, is not giving up hope, is not agreeing with a path that is not of God’s plans. Rather it is seeing life exactly as it is – for whatever reason- and praying for the grace and ability to seek God in it. In the seeking, I grow closer to him and will find how He wants this time most used. And it also will tell satan, I am not interested in the repairs he can offer (no matter how often I am tempted to listen to them). This is what will give me the fullness I need most: life in God. It’s weird and difficult to explain and hard to follow every minute of everyday, but there is a peace in it that provides comfort. I am grateful.
Lent is the liturgical season designed to walk with Jesus to the cross. Our humanity has turned it to many different things: some good and some not so good. And yet all of it can be used for and by God. This is the time when our humanity can be embraced, set with Jesus, and eventually redeemed (even if we fall along the journey). A place where we are all welcomed, a place where we are all seen, a place where we are understood …. Isn’t that what we all truly in our hearts of hearts desire? Lent: we are all welcome and Jesus starter the way!
For this week two tools really spoke to me:
1: Father Schmitz homily. It is an excellent guide on temptation and sin. Why we aren’t abnormal for having to face it and how we can learn from Jesus to respond. I found it so powerful that if Jesus cuts satan off before any justification truly got rolling, maybe I need to do the same.
2: Mama’s in Spirit Podcast: “Struggling with Your Reality?” This is an excellent explanation of how looking at our crosses and having them change our hearts is actually what will help us the most…. Instead of praying they go away. That and I was comforted with the reminder: we ALL have stuff!
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!