So it is the first Sunday of Lent – time to get moving on our Lenten journey.
So imagine we are a train sitting at a station. It’s going to take a lot of energy to get that train moving. And even then, progress is slow, the wheels seem to meander around. But then something shifts:
The wheels turn faster, momentum builds and before too long, the train is an unstoppable force.
No one but the driver, the engineer, can stop it from getting to its destination and if anyone was to try – they had better get out of the way or they will get run over.
What if we expended all that energy and power to get ourselves moving --- only to discover we’re moving in the wrong direction because we’re on the wrong track??
I think that is why every year the season of Lent begins in the desert. “The Spirit DROVE Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days.”
Like Jesus, like the Israelites, like John the Baptist, like the early Church fathers and mothers – to begin our Lenten journey – the spirit drives us into the desert.
Why? I think to make sure our heads are on straight – our hearts are in the right place – and to make sure we are on the right track before we come barreling out of the station. . .
We are driven into the desert – that is times and places of quiet and isolation and reflection however we can carve them out of our busy schedules --- our inner room, as St. Matthew’s Gospel told us on Ash Wednesday – where we go and close the door in order to spend time with God -- so that we can be apart from the influences of culture and society.
The uncertainties of the desert create a need for God and a dependence upon God.
God lets us do without – so we can come to know God as our provider.
God lets us be lonely – so we can come to know God as our ally and friend.
God lets us be frightened and worried – so that we can come to know God as our peace.
God lets us be weak – so we can know God as our strength.
In the desert – God reveals Himself. In the darkness of the desert – God become our light.
In the confusion of the desert –we learn to let God be our guide.
In the desert – God separates us from the influences of the world, as well as the things and people we have learned to depend on – so that we will learn to depend on God.
In the desert, with the help of God’s grace, we put ourselves on the right track – having learned to reject Satan and all his empty works and empty promises.
The spirit drives us into the desert – so that God, alone, can lead us out.
So after carving out those places of quiet and isolation and reflection from our busy schedules – and having placed ourselves on the right track – it’s time to get that train rolling.
If we have not started anything by way of prayer, fasting and almsgiving -- thenstart today. Even the smallest actions toward turning away from evil and doing good – seeking after peace and pursuing it – will make a difference.
It may take a lot of effort to get the wheels turning – as it always seems to be hard to get Lent going – as we usually don’t jump into Lent with much enthusiasm --- but once we have started, momentum can build quickly.
And then once we off and running with our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – no once can stop is.
We can be that unstoppable train. We can become those people God wants us to be.
We can live the Baptismal promises that call us to reject sin and Satan and to embrace Jesus’ way of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy.
We just need to leave the station –AND be sure we’re on the right track. . .
Moments in time...