The desert

To me as a Catholic, Lent is a time to reflect and pray just as Jesus did in the desert 40 days before His death. It is a time for self-reflection and to gently strip away some of the things that separate us from God to create a more intimate relationship. As I recently heard one of the Comboni Fathers here in Trujillo say, in prayer and in fasting we have to look at our intentions. Fasting during lent is not about prayer and fasting with the intention, for example, of losing weight, but whatever it is that we do, no matter how big or small, we must do it with the intention of it bringing us closer to God.

Jesus knew what was to come of His life yet he still prayed for those who would eventually crucify him. I am intrigued by the fact that Jesus would pray for those I would consider his enemies fully knowing that their intent was to harm him. As soon as anyone takes a jab at me, criticizes me, or intends to harm me, most times my reaction is to criticize back and put up walls to protect myself. This is precisely what Jesus tells us not to do. It is not easy and will probably be a lifelong struggle as it requires constant vulnerability and reliance on God. Why would Jesus want me to wish well upon someone that is clearly trying to harm me? This is a very logical question and feeling that we get. To me the gospel is a mystery and I will probably never fully understand it. I once heard a pastor, Rev. Charles McCarthy, say that “we are born into a mystery, we live in a mystery, and we die into a mystery.” I agree with him because if we live only on the basis of understanding, we will never fully understand and we will end up disappointed because of the lack of comprehension will probably become cynical. God calls us to have faith and trust in Him just as Jesus did in the desert before he was crucified.

Jesus’ unconditional love for us as children of God was much greater than all the pain we caused him including death on the cross. Jesus too was scared in the desert and felt alone and rejected which in many ways we may feel the same if we follow His teachings. We are never alone in life just like Jesus was not alone in the desert before his death. I believe that life is a gift given to us and even though at times we may not want to, we should live our lives with actions of gratitude as signs of love toward God as Jesus did throughout His life on earth.

For me Lent is a great time to reflect on how God wants me to live my life. I will probably never understand the depth of God’s unconditional love. A love so deep, that He sent his only son so that we could be saved. But, I am fully confident that all God wants from me in return is to love Him back trough prayer and actions as forms of praise and gratitude. As we finish this Lenten season, I encourage you to reflect on how much you are loved and how you can respond to that love as a way to become more intimate with God.