Journey into This Year’s Lenten Desert
by Rosemary Brennan, CSJ

“And at once the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert
and he remained there for forty days and was put to the test …”

Mark 1:12

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the desert to be put to the test …”
Matthew 4:1

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit
into the desert for forty days being put to the test …”

Luke 4:1-2

The Gospel for this Lenten season is Mark’s Gospel and I believe it is not accidental, at least from my perspective. In Matthew and Luke’s Gospel it says, “the Spirit led” Jesus into the desert. However, in Mark’s gospel it says, “the Spirit drove” Jesus into the desert.

This Lent I find myself having a serious conversation with God about my resistance to being “driven” into this Lenten desert. The primary reason I think is that many, like me, are feeling that we never left the 2020 Lenten pandemic desert.

In sitting with my resistance, a meaningful movement in Ignatian spirituality, I was drawn to revisit the first entry in my coronavirus journal. It read: “As I ponder this pandemic, I go from being fearful given I am of an age, an age that is more susceptible to the virus; to being philosophical about what is this pandemic going to teach us as a global community, as a nation and as individuals.” (March 12, 2020)

Needless to say, we each have lived from Lent 2020 to this Lent with a variety of personal experiences, a multitude of emotions and many prayerful reflections. In so many ways life has been overwhelming and filled with daily unknowns for so many. Yet amazingly there have also been numerous moments of grace and times of abundant blessings. Pandemic life has been a real mix!

So now as we once again enter this 40-day period of reflection, fasting and discernment may we prayerfully engage with all that is and has been by seeking to deepen our relationship with our God. May we also own, like Jesus, that we have been tested? And may we trust that God will reveal to us what is being asked of us personally, nationally and globally?

And in our Lenten pondering may we also remember that just prior to Jesus going into the desert he was baptized by John and at his baptism God said to him “you are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. So, as you journey into this year’s Lenten desert may you too know and believe that you are God’s beloved and are accompanied in this Lenten journey of transformation by the Spirit.  

Rosemary Brennan, CSJ