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Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent 2018

Donna Wuhrer, Associate, Connecticut, USA

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with Eleanor, my Spiritual Director, about Lent.  In one simple sentence, she helped me change my not-very-positive thinking and feelings about Lent into something new. Eleanor said, “Lent is really about transformation.”  It was a “bing” moment for me!  I’m sure I’ve heard this many times before in my life; but a few weeks ago, I heard it in a new way.  Funny how the Spirit works.  God knows my heart and where I am in my life at this moment.  I needed to hear the word transformation equated with Lent.  And so, it is with this word and this lens that I offer this simple reflection on this Sunday’s Gospel…

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.  (Mark 1:12-13)

I am really struck by two images from this Sunday’s Gospel passage—the first was wild beasts.

Jesus had to deal with wild beasts in the desert.  So will I.  In reflecting on this coming Lent, I know I am being called to deal with the “wild beast” of great hurt and unkindness from a situation in my life. Instead of letting this “wild beast” consume me and continually circle me, it is time to mindfully and prayerfully give it to God during my Lenten journey.  Only God can truly transform the suffering, hurt, and pain into forgiveness and healing.  The second image is angels ministering to Jesus. God was there in the desert caring for Jesus and sending angels to minister to him in whatever way that was needed. What a beautiful image!  God is with me, too, on this journey—loving me, guiding me, and caring for me. God is also inviting me to notice the heavenly and earthly angels that will be sent to me along the way--just like Eleanor, an earthly angel, who God sent to me before Lent with that special word I needed…transformation!    

I believe that if we have the desire and the openness this Lent, the same Spirit that drove/compelled/urged Jesus into the desert will call each of us into the desert as well.  What will that desert be for you?  For me?  It will be different for each of us.  It will have a different look and feel and name. Our task is to be open, to pray for direction, to trust the Spirit, and to trust the journey—even if it seems a little daunting or scary.  And during this journey, when we are tempted, when we are among the “wild beasts” (whatever our own “wild beasts” are), we must have faith and trust that God is with us lavishing love upon us and sending heavenly and earthly angels to minister to us in whatever ways we need.  During each of our Lenten journeys, may we be like Jesus--faithful sons and daughters who trust in, are open to, and are transformed by God’s great love!

Reflection question:  Where are you being called to transformation in your life?

A prayer for the beginning of Lent by Andy Alexander, SJ, Creighton University

Lord, this Lenten journey is so important for me.  Thank you for giving me this time to become freer, to get closer to you, and to love others with your own heart.  Keep showing me your love, so I can trust enough to let go of whatever it is I cling to instead of you.  Let me enjoy more quiet, more space, and less of the distractions, so I can begin to identify how I can better be your servant and take this time to practice new patterns and ways of being in my everyday life. Thank you for accompanying me. I know you will be generous if I am only available to receive your gifts.  Amen.


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