February 18, 2018

Here and Now in the Desert

The Gospel of the first week in Lent always finds us in the desert with Jesus.  As it is proclaimed, He is led there by the Spirit, driven into the desert where He is tempted, where He finds time to focus on prayer and deepen His union with the Father.  We are called to do the same.  It is Lent and in the here and now the here is the now.


The desert is an invitation.  How do we get there?  Jesus was led by the Spirit.  To enter the desert we are challenged to allow the Spirit to lead us.  In this place, light and darkness are revealed to us. In this place, our personal story of sin and grace, brokenness and wholeness leads us on.  How did we get to the here?  We must remember the promise of water while in the place where there is no water.  Claimed by God through Baptism is how we enter.  Our intent is connected to this.  The Liturgy of the Word this weekend began with the covenant of Noah.  We are told God will never destroy all mortal beings ever again.  This promise and all of God’s promises leads us here.  We can never escape it.  Where is the Spirit leading us?  In what desert of need do we find ourselves?


In the moment we are called to understand the deepest truths revealed. In the now there is a transparency.  The Son of God was not above temptation and living with wild beasts.  The Son of God was not above the hardship of hunger and thirst.  The Son of God recognized the angels who came to be present to Him.  In the now we must face the reality of temptation.  We live in a crucible of temptation every day.  We cannot deceive ourselves.  Too often we may not feel temptation because we have softened our moral compass with rationalization.  We may avoid clear definitions of sin so that we cannot connect with temptation.  Yet it is real.  In the now we must face it head on.  We must name it.  In the now we must also see with clear vision the angels of grace sent to us.  In the now we must deepen our hunger and faith in the sacramental grace offered as a gift.  In the desert of now we must acknowledge whom we avoid, who we fail to forgive, who we allow to steal peace from us.  In the now, self-honesty is paramount.


Jesus leaves the desert with clear purpose.  Jesus goes to Galilee and begins to proclaim the Gospel of God and the proclamation of the Kingdom.  We are challenged to repent and believe in the Gospel.  With a clear vision Jesus begins His mission.  As we enter the first full week of Lent, we are invited to the here and now. We are called to proclaim the Kingdom.  We are called to repent and believe.  Clearer vision is what we desire.  In the here and now, the here is the now.  In this place of sacramental grace as we receive the Sacraments, we receive the man in the desert.  We invite Him into our very selves.  In the transparency of the moment, the crucible of temptation is shattered as Jesus feeds us and nourishes us with His very body that hung on the cross.

The here is the now, the desert is the place.

Jesus is waiting,

Reverend John J. Ouper