Written by Emily Lazor
Associate Director of Pastoral Life
It’s easy to miss the importance of the first line of this Sunday’s Gospel—“filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days.” The Evangelist Luke reminds us that we—like Jesus—are prepared to walk into the desert because of the fruits that were first given to us by the Spirit in our baptism.
Like a thoughtful teacher, perhaps we might use backward design and start Lent by looking first to Easter Sunday. If our objective is to more fully experience the freedom that is given to us through Christ in the Easter resurrection, what needs to first die in the desert in order for us to welcome new life?
What are our own temptations that must be struck down in the desert? What are the words that we too often hear or say that we know to be false in light of who God is? What unhelpful attachment is the Spirit asking us to give up? Where is the same Spirit that called Jesus into the desert asking us to go? Like Jesus’ responses to Satan, to what Scripture will we root ourselves in order to keep our eyes set on what God promises on the other side of these forty days?
As Christians we breathe a sigh of relief that we get each of these Lenten days to slowly orient ourselves to deeper conversion. We desire not to waste our Lent, as we carry our unhealthy habits, our disordered dispositions, our longtime grudges, our stubborn mindsets, slowly through the desert, each to get left behind. While sometimes parts of this load are too heavy to carry, we trust that the Spirit—the one that filled us during the Baptism we share with Christ—will allow us to let them go in the desert, leaving them behind on the Cross on Good Friday to be redeemed on the other side of the tomb on Easter Sunday.