Welcome to the Desert

Feb. 18, 2024

The 40 days that Christ spent in the desert is the model for our Christian Lent. So is the 40 days of the story of Noah and the flood, which our second reading today tells us is a foreshadowing of baptism. As the flood washed away the evil on the earth, so baptism washes away the guilt of both Original Sin and personal sin from our souls. We are also reminded of the 40 years that the Hebrew people spent in the desert.
If we set out for a 40-day journey through the desert, there are things that are necessary for our survival. First, we have to reduce our baggage as much as possible. Food and drink are necessary supplies, but we can only carry so much of each of these. In our spiritual pilgrimage through the desert, we have to reduce our baggage as much as possible, and we must make decisions about what is essential and what is not. What gets in the way of our journeying with Christ in our Lenten desert that we need to get rid of?

Too much of our lives are made up of distractions that are not necessary, and which keep us from focusing on the essential. Perhaps we need to fast from TV during Lent, so we have more time for the essentials.

What are the essentials? Relationships! We need to take time for prayer and for reading Scripture. We need to take time to call relatives, or other friends or other acquaintances who are sick or who are struggling in some way. We need to make time to volunteer and to be generous with our time and our talents.
Fasting is also about food. All too many of us have an unhealthy relationship with food. Rather than eating for health, perhaps we eat because we are depressed, anxious, or bored. In these cases, food has become a drug to numb feelings we do not want to feel, and we can, or perhaps have, developed any number of eating disorders. By fasting during Lent, we regain self-control over our use of food and allow ourselves to face uncomfortable emotions with prayer and with God’s guidance and strength.
—Fr. Mike Comer

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