"How blest are the poor in spirit for there is the Kingdom of Heaven", Matthew. "Blessed are you poor; the reign of God IS yours", Luke.
Wednesday will be Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. Lent brings with it, the invitation to again join Jesus on His journey into the desert, so that when we find ourselves in our desert experience, there find we WILL find Jesus journeying with us. We will find in the person of Jesus Christ, both a companion, and a shepherd. On reflection we will come to see, that it is within the desert journey the strength of The Good Shepherd, is really revealed to you, and I. He, because of His desert experience, will and does accompany us, on our journey. He will not only be the companion we so desperately need, He will be our guide, and strengthening presence. We will enter the desert again, and again, on this our human experience as spiritual beings. We must remember there is never anything in the spiritual life once forever. How I wish that was not so!
From my many hikes and personal journeys in the desert, the following thoughts have bubbled up. I now see that word broken down as follows.
"God makes ALL things work together for good"????
This then, is how I have come to see, and believe what the desert is all about. Jesus was led, according to one writer, he was driven into the desert according to another author, what is important, He ended up in the desert. His ancestors in faith, who are our ancestors in faith as well, were led into the desert. They were led into the desert, on their way out of slavery, into the freedom of the promised land. We must always keep before ourselves that sequence of
events. God's own chosen people were in slavery. In order to be freed from that state, where there was some, and only some security, they had to do what? They had to leave that state and enter the insecurity, and uncertainty of the wilderness. This led them to many trials, and temptations. The desert wilderness was for them, as it is for us, a place, and a process of purgation, and purification. A process which led them ultimately, to an ever deepening belief, and understanding of who they were as The Chosen People of God. I have read that some authors look at the desert journey, as a courting effort on the part of God. What a courting that turned out to be. Then Shakespeare says, 'all is well that ends well".
The journey of the chosen people of the Old Covenant, is now the journey of us who are the chosen people on the new covenant of grace.
We are Always on some part of the journey. On the journey, we will either find ourselves in the slavery of sin, or journeying in the desert, or enjoying the promises of the promised land. Again and again we encounter the different aspects of the original journey. Because of our humanity, we have to be reminded again and again, of all the different, and somewhat difficult aspects of what is our present day journey, from slavery, to the desert, to the promised land.
Lent 2010 will become our first Lenten journey as we are today. We will journey through familiar places, mysteriously for the first time. There will be feelings of consolation and desolation, comfort and discomfort, security and anxiety, as we are guided through a landscape, "so ancient and so new". Through all of this we will have that carrot of the scriptures held out ever before us, how blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is yours now. The promised land is in the here and now. We for our part must have, or develop an attitude which will empower us to make this Lent ,not only our first Lent but our most meaningful one. We are going to enter again the Paschal Mystery, to become enlightened, enlivened, radically changed, resulting in each one being transformed, and transfigured, into a more authentic presence of the Risen Christ. This is who we are called to be.
Next week, we have a look at the attitude we must allow ourselves to adopt for a meaningful yet uncomfortable Lenten journey. Warning...letting go, is NOT easy.!!!!