Today the Church presents us with a very short but rich version of Jesus’ sojourn in the desert. He has just been baptized, and with the impulse of the Spirit, his Father has sent him into the desert. In the silence, Jesus can turn over and over in his mind the words his Father had pronounced with such solemnity: “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.” These words are the treasure that Jesus will hold fast these forty days, nourishing him like no bread could do. Jesus wants us to understand that these words are intended for us as well, who by the Spirit have been baptized into him. For the Father speaks to us as he did to Jesus: “You are my beloved sons and daughters; with you, I am well pleased in my Son, Jesus Christ.”
The reality of the desert also includes the obstacles that Jesus faced, some of which we will also face this Lent. First, there were the needs of his body. Jesus, like us, was flesh and blood, and being in the desert for forty days certainly tested his physical endurance. Second, there was the presence of Satan, the same evil spirit that had hounded the People of God from the beginning. He has not gone away but seeks every chance to deceive us. Third, there were wild beasts, those irrational forces that permeate our world, bringing new forms of hatred and violence. Finally, there was the clear awareness of the risk he was taking. Jesus would not have us be ignorant of these obstacles; truly we cannot have the mind of Christ without trials.
And to understand the mind of Christ we must embrace the urgency of his mission. If the Spirit has brought Jesus into the desert to ponder his Father’s words, he will bring him back from the desert to announce that the “time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” At the beginning of another Lenten season, the Church wants us to hear Jesus’ words and to change our minds from what is deceitful, away from those beasts lurking in the hidden parts of our hearts.
Excerpts from Father Vincent's Homily for the First Sunday of Lent.