Entering the Desert: A Homily by Deacon Alan Doty

My brothers and sisters, as we begin this blessed season of Lent, the Church beckons us to reflect deeply on our lives and embark on a journey of prayer, fasting, and alms giving. These forty days offer us a precious opportunity to seek conversion of heart, to prepare ourselves for the resurrection, and to live a life worthy of Christ.

As pilgrims on our journey towards our own resurrection, we encounter many different terrains, some filled with abundance and comfort, while others are filled with tension and discord. At the beginning of this Lenten season, we find ourselves in the desert, following in the footsteps of our Lord.

In the desert, we confront our own weaknesses and are forced to be alone with ourselves. We are called to examine the motivations that hide in the heart of our humanity and to seek clarification and purification. It is a time of self-reflection and renewal, as we strive to bring about the Kingdom.

Just as Jesus himself spent time in the desert, confronting temptation and facing his own humanity, we too are called to enter our own desert, to confront our own temptations and emerge strengthened and renewed.

This Lenten season is not just a time to clean up around the edges of our spiritual lives. It is a time to go deeper, to enter the desert and confront our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It is only in the desert that we can come to recognize our complete emptiness and our need for God’s grace.

Entering the desert may not be easy. It can be confusing and painful, but it is also a place of hope. God is with us, drawing us in and helping us through our trials. If we are open to the Spirit, we will receive moments of grace and emerge from the desert transformed.

In recent months and years, it’s possible that you have found yourself in the desert for a much longer period of time than you could have ever imagined. The pandemic has left an indelible mark on our society, and many of us are still struggling to cope with the pain and suffering it has caused. Trauma and loss from horrific acts of violence have also affected countless individuals and communities, leaving us feeling isolated and disconnected.

The reality of the desert is all too real for many of us, and it’s possible that some of us are still there. This Lenten season may find us in a place of barrenness and emptiness, marked by despair, sadness, and loneliness, or by fractured and broken relationships, or loss of a different kind. Yet, this desert we journey to on the first Sunday of Lent serves as a reminder of the true suffering that Jesus endured during his time in the wilderness. Through our own struggles, we are led to turn to God in hope and gratitude for his gift of faith.

Despite the difficulties we face, we have the freedom to choose to journey through the desert with faith that God is with us every step of the way. Our journey may be challenging, but we can trust that God will meet us there, bringing comfort and hope along the way. As we begin this Lenten season, let us remember that we are not alone in our struggles, and let us draw strength from one another and from our faith as we journey towards renewal and transformation.

My sisters and brothers, as we begin this Lenten journey, push forward deeper into the desert. Do not retreat to the safety of your old lives but embrace this time of self-reflection and renewal. Fast from old perspectives, seek renewal in seeing things differently, and love people differently. Let us give God some room to work in our lives, and let us emerge from this season of Lent transformed and renewed.

This journey is not one that we take alone. We are all in this together, united in Christ. We support and encourage one another along the way, as we strive to live a life worthy of our Lord. May God bless us all on this journey, and may we emerge from the desert renewed and transformed, ready to serve the Kingdom. 

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