FEBRUARY 21, 2021 1ST SUNDAY OF LENT
1st reading: Genesis 9:8-15
2nd reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22
Gospel: Mark 1:12-15
What people do most when you take the train or bus? Most are plugged into their earphones or headphones, hooked to their bluetooth. Likewise, if you are driving your private car, and thus, in a controlled private environment, there is always something playing in the background-music, news, or anything that will not make you feel alone.
We have now entered into the season of Lent. Our Gospel reading today presents Jesus being led by the Spirit into the desert where he remained for many days. Likewise, we too, are invited during this Lent to go to the “desert”. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The desert is not a place where many us would like to go and stay. So quiet and scary. But, what good was it for Jesus to stay for forty days in the desert? As his disciples, why are we being led also by the Spirit into a kind of "desert"? First, it is in the desert that we are confronted with the truth of our poverty and nothingness - a privileged place that challenges us to live in humility and radical simplicity. The barren desert strips us of the things we attach ourselves to so obsessively and even violently. It is not easy to stay in the desert. Our inner struggles tempt us to go back to our life's securities and comforts. Secondly, the desert helps us to acquire clarity and wisdom concerning the real value of things and the profound meaning of life, where we can more clearly understand the true purpose of wealth, power, and God's gifts and talents, be grateful for what we have, and generously share it with others. Aware of our own poverty, we learn to respect, appreciate, and love all people, no matter how different they are from us. Thirdly, the desert invites us to hear the "beating of God's heart.” In the desert's silence, we listen to God, be loved by Him, know His will and follow it with humility, courage and fidelity. It is when we have drawn our hearts so close to the Lord (communion) that we know it is the right time to leave the desert and begin or continue our mission to our family, community and society.
Prayer: Lord, help us to encounter you and listen to you in the “desert” of our heart.