No better place to start Lent than in the desert. There are no distractions in the desert. Perhaps that why Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert.
He wanted to pray. He fasted for forty days and forty nights. We are asked to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Nothing to compare with 40 days straight. There was no stop watch to clock the time. 40 days means that Jesus was in the desert for a long time. At the moment when Our Lord was in communication with the Father, the devil came to tempt Him. Every time that something good is going to happen the obstacles come crashing down upon us. Before retreats, when we have decided to serve in a ministry, before we start our prayers—come the temptations. Worse when the distractions are in the form of arguments with our spouse. Divisions within families can cause deep wounds. One of the devil’s favorite weapons is division. From the beginning, the main target has always been family. Since the family is God’s first idea, evil tries to destroy unity. Satan does not like harmony; he likes chaos. Remember that the first death in the Bible was murder. Cane killed his brother Able. Should give us a big hint that fights among brothers and sisters are nothing new. Fact is that the people whom we most love are they ones who can hurt us profoundly.
“You can pick your friends, but not your family.” God is the One who picks our family for us—our family of origin. Husbands and wives pick each other, unless the marriage is arranged, which by the way yields better results. No secret, folks change partners like dirty socks. “I don’t like you anymore. I’m tired of you. I don’t want you anymore.” Some people have made mistakes in choosing their partner. God does not call us to live in misery. The Church grants declarations of invalidity to help divorced and remarried get on with their lives. However, some are too quick to throw in the towel. Help is available. When unhealthy patterns are repeated, nothing changes. An outside party can shed light and help guide a couple to make a good decision.
If we are looking for ways to improve our spiritual life during the Season of Lent, look no farther—start in the family. Spouses can make suggestions to one another about areas that need improvement—because spouses know each other’s weak spots. “Try not to drive so fast. Rather than watching so much TV, spend the time reading the Bible. Give up your I Pad for Lent.” Spouses can challenge one another and keep each other accountable. The majority of us like to take a private approach to our spiritual life. In marriage there is no choice—the approach must be communal. “For they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Notice that the first sin was communal—Husband and wife disobeyed God and then Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. Devil still gets blamed for all the things for which we do not want to take responsibility. Temptation will never go away. But temptation is not a sin. Being tempted does not make us a bad person. Not even sin makes us bad people. What makes us bad, or more like dumb is when we turn our back on God’s love. Jesus already walked the road, fought the fight, won the battle. All we have to do is accept unconditional love. The acceptance is unbearable when we refuse to forgive ourselves. Lent is a good time to start—that’s what Lent means—Spring—new birth—new life.
Lent is the opportunity to humble ourselves, recognize our weaknesses, and trust in God’s love.