As Church, Entering the Desert as One

1st Sunday of Lent | March 1, 2020

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons


Every year when I hear this Gospel, I think of which temptation would be hardest for me to avoid.

Is it the temptation to have every one of my needs met? To snap my fingers and feed my hunger, quench my thirst. To wave a hand and dispel the storms that threaten.

Is it the temptation to be in control? To know that I’m never truly falling. Never truly failing. For there is always a plan. An answer. A solution.

Is it the temptation to have everyone shouting my name?  Winning the adoration and love of each student, each colleague, each parishioner.  

There are years when one temptation seems predominant.  Other years in which I feel like I am succumbing to all three simultaneously.

But this year, I realized there was a temptation that Christ faced that I had missed. A temptation buried in the final lines of this Gospel.

    And that is the temptation to face it all on one’s own.

For in letting the angels minister to him, Christ was accepting help.  Letting another be a source of strength and healing, comfort and solidarity for him in his moment of struggle.

And in those few lines, I was reminded of just how often I fail to overcome this temptation.

For I feel like I spend far too much of my life trying to do it all on my own.

    I look at the people I love, smile and say I’m fine.  When my heart is a million fragmented        pieces.

I stare at my to-do list that feels utterly overwhelming, knowing that I can never do it all. But when someone offers to help, I go, “Nah, I got it.”

I have all of these insecurities and moments of failure and embarrassment. But when I think of sharing them with someone else, I immediately second-guess myself. I don’t want to burden them. They don’t need to worry about me. It’s no big deal

I guess I’m not that different from Adam and Eve.  Assuming that if one is to be like God, then one is going to be independent.  Assuming that my nakedness, my brokenness, my needs are something of which I should be ashamed.  Assuming that I need to build some pretty sturdy loincloths to shield me from the world.  

And I don’t think I’m alone.

So many of us have convinced ourselves that this journey is meant to be navigated alone.

We square our shoulders, set our eyes straight ahead and march on, refusing to acknowledge that there is anything beneath the facade.

        No one needs to know about our anxiety or our insecurities

        No one needs to know about our self-doubts, our failures, our fears.

        No one needs to know of our deepest shame.  Our self-loathing. Our regrets

    The trauma.  The losses. The breakups and divorces.  The miscarriages and abortions.

The injuries and rejections. The depression. The addiction. The defeats and the darkest moments. The secrets we clutch desperately to our heart.

    We’ve got it.  We’ll handle it.  Nothing to worry about.  

    We’re fine.

    Even though nothing could be further from the truth.

My friends, here we are on the threshold of the Lenten desert that lies before us, a desert that was never designed to be traversed alone, despite our best efforts to the contrary.

So let us allow this year to be different.

Let us, the Church, enter into this desert as one.  Ministering to one another as we face our temptations.  As we lower our loincloths. As we reveal our nakedness without shame.

Ministering to one another as we face our fears, heal our wounds, and learn to love ourselves again.

Ministering to one another as we forgive ourselves and learn to trust ourselves once again.

And in so doing, may we return to our mythical Eden, to our Promised land.  To the place where each of us is gifted with life in abundance. Where all are found.  All are known. All are loved.

The desert awaits my friends.  Let us help one another through.

May God be Praised.

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