1st Sunday of Lent: In the Desert of Fear


Study: How did Christ face his fears?  How can we face our own?

Pray: Ask God for the help to face our fears and offer thanks for moments of grace.

Serve: Many face fears each day through temptation; how can we help them overcome their obstacles?

1st Sunday of Lent Readings

My experience and imagination tell me that the desert is a dry and barren place, absent of the typical signs of life.  Compared to the vegetation and animal life many of us know, the desert can seem to be a place where there is nothing at all.

This sense of “nothing” can be very profound.  The bleakness of the desert can lead to a sense of quiet.  Without the distraction and abundance of other living things, a person can often contemplate on problems and concerns, doubts and fears that lie within the heart.

Jesus was led to the desert.  After his baptism the Spirit directed him to a place of barren solitude where he would be tempted.  Alone and without the basic conforts of life, the Lord confronted the issues that would surface throughout his ministry.

In the three temptations, the Devil uses fear to keep Jesus from his mission.  The first temptation, turning stones to bread, forces Jesus to face the fear of bodily harm.  Knowing he is God, Jesus could have allowed himself to never physically suffer.  Yet the Lord says that there is more than just the body.

The second temptation, bowing to the Devil to receive the kingdoms of the earth, shows Jesus the fear of being powerless.  The miracles he will later perform testify to his power and might.  Jesus, however, places his hope in God alone.

The third temptation, falling from the Temple, addresses the fear of death.  The devil tempts Jesus to take the easy way, avoiding the pain that his suffering on the Cross will cause.  Yet the Lord again responds with confidence – for God is not to be tested to “prove” his power.

These three temptations are a foreshadowing of what will come.  Through his death on the Cross the Lord will encounter all of these fears.  His body beaten and tortured, alone and abandoned, left to die as a criminal – the Lord will endure these fears in the saving act that sets us free.  The temptations Jesus rejected in the desert he confronts in life, but he faces them in spite of the fear they cause.

The Lords temptation in the desert becomes an opportunity for us to examine our hearts.  There are times when God leads us to a barren place, where we are isolated and free of the distractions of life.  At these moments we may face our fears, seeing clearly those issues which keep us from living our lives as the Lord intended.

About Fr. Andrew Ricci

A Catholic priest since 1997, Fr. Andrew Ricci is currently the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI. His website "Three Great Things" can be found at studyprayserve.com and his podcasts can be found under "Catholic Inspiration" in the iTunes store. View all posts by Fr. Andrew Ricci

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