Forty Days in the Wilderness

Before Jesus begins his public ministry, the Spirit drives him into the wilderness for forty days. He is tempted by Satan, and in physical danger from wild beasts, but the angels look after him. He knows that his Father is close to him. As we begin the forty days of Lent, the Spirit invites us to spend some time in the wilderness ourselves; to reflect on our lives and on our need of God. Traditionally, the Church encourages us to make Lent a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer means making time to be alone with God, to listen to God’s Word and to ask God for what we really need. Fasting sets us free: from ‘creature comforts’ that help us to get through the day and cope with its demands, but which can come to control us; and from habits of sin that can tie us down. Almsgiving is a real and concrete response to Christ’s commandment to ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ But in order to find space for reflection and contemplation, we need to step back from some of the things that usually keep us busy, and that always seem so important. At the start of Lent, we are invited to go into the wilderness with Christ, so that we can be ready to rejoice at his Resurrection.

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