As we move into the season of Lent, some thoughts from Bishop Barron:
The holy season of Lent arises from Jesus’ forty days in the desert. The number forty — a classical biblical number, from the flood lasting forty days and forty nights to the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years — signals the mystical and religious purpose of this enterprise. The Lord, who enters fully into our human condition without becoming a sinner, nonetheless wrestles with all the temptations that we wrestle with. He is “the one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Very early on in the life of the Church, Christians recognized that if the Lord went into the desert, then we ought to go into the desert too; we, too, need to fast and to face down our demons. Thus, Lent is fundamentally an imitatio Christi ( imitation of Christ).
The desert is a place of simplicity and poverty, a place where illusions die, where reality is faced honestly and without compromise. But the desert also symbolizes the spiritual space of sin. Sin creates a desert experience. This is part of why so many of the great heroes of Israel — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the prophets —- have to spend time in the desert: they have to get in touch with their own sinfulness, to purge away what needs purging.
In this season of Lent, we get in touch with our own sin, with what has produced a desert in us. We don’t cover it up, make excuses for it, or dull our sensitivity to it; rather, following Jesus, we face down our own fears and temptations in the desert.
May God bless you, your families, and the week ahead,
Fr Aidan Peter