Lent is a time of intimate friendship – with the Lord and our brethren. It also leads to an intimate touch with the self. It invites us to lend an ear, lend a hand and open our hearts. Listening to the voice of the Lord and cry of the people demands the silence of the desert. The most endearing place of rest, relaxation and inner peace for Jesus was the desert. Some of the prominent prophets of the Old Testament like Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist and the like also found desert the right place to meet God.
The birth of religious life in the Church was in the desert and it was in such desert that significant writings, biblical translations, transcriptions and development of theology originally started. A group of early century teachers of the Church are known as Desert Fathers. Thus desert is not as barren as we are inclined to think. In fact it is and used to be the most fertile soil for the soul, mind and even body!
God speaks to us in silence. In the depth of silence we too are inclined to listen to God and respond. For forty days and nights Jesus was in the silence of the desert, and during our Lenten observance we make an attempt to catch up with Jesus. If that really happens it is the occasion of a personal encounter with him and after that we are not likely to be the same person. An encounter with Jesus changes us and transforms us into a better spiritual being, a better Christian, a better human being, a better brother, sister, parent, child, service personal, a better parishioner and so on.
However, this closeness, if it happens to be intense, will also make us exhausted. That is the time the enemy tries to creep into our life, just like he did it with Jesus with the temptations. Hence we must be aware that intimacy with God doesn’t necessarily keep us away from temptation. Just like God is always active and alive in our life, the enemy also is.
Hence we need the strength and power of the Word of God with which Jesus fought all his temptations. We also need to keep in mind that temptations are not just momentary and casual as we feel Jesus had in the desert. For Jesus these and similar temptations haunted him all through his adult earthly life and it will be the same way with us. Hence we need to be alert and alive to them.
Lent prepares us to win over the temptations and to design a new course of life of conversion, leading to the inner joy and peace of the Easter.