1st Sunday of Lent
February 18, 2018
Our Daily Grind
I think that many of us sometimes just feel overwhelmed with the daily grind of life.
It may be the day in, day out caring for the children whom you love very much – getting them to school, taking them to scouts and sports and on it goes. It may be just keeping up with the housecleaning, laundry and meals.
It may the commute to work on I-95 or whatever road it is. It may the stress of the job that we no longer really like.
On top of all that, it may also be worrying what the future will be like with groups like ISIS around. Some days we may feel that we cannot deal with one more thing.
I have felt that way at times. Especially when I was the pastor of a parish, there were moments when I felt that I couldn’t deal with one more thing.
Jesus’ Daily Grind and His Desert
The gospels convey that the daily grind even gets to Jesus at times.
Today’s passage tells us that he goes into the desert to be by himself. And what Jesus does here may really serve as a pattern for us.
1) He first goes off and claims a bit of space just for himself. I imagine that in this space, he gets a renewed sense of who he is and what he is feeling and what he is to do with his life.
The gospel then says that 2) he is “tempted.” I wonder if this means that he becomes aware of his own humanity and of what is pulling him away from the mission that the Father has given him to do.
Apparently, he is renewed 1) by this space and 2) by this awareness of himself. I say this because he comes out of the desert 3) saying “The kingdom of God is at hand.”
He is able to see goodness and God in his midst and in himself. And finally, he invites us 4) to “Repent and believe in the gospel.”
I am thinking that he means: do what I just did. You need to pull away a bit from your daily grind in the way that I just did here.
Our Desert Space
So, 1) maybe for us the “desert” or the space is when we are driving alone in our car. Maybe it’s going up to your bedroom, closing the door and just being alone and quiet for five minutes.
Maybe it’s taking a walk or spending a few minutes in church. Whatever the desert or the space is, we need to plan it, to be intentional about it, and make it happen.
And then, in that space, 2) we may also see, as Jesus does, how we are “tempted.” Maybe we will be aware of how our stress is causing us to be impatient and insensitive toward others.
Maybe we will discover that we have too many possessions to take care of. Maybe we will realize that we are not exercising appropriate control over the family schedule.
And then, 1) with the space and 2) with this awareness of self, we can 3) “Repent and believe in the gospel,” as Jesus puts it today. We can resolve to do what we need to do.
And maybe this repentance or resolve will simply be to stay grounded, especially grounded in the Lord by making space for ourselves amidst the daily grind. Maybe that’s what we need to do above anything else.
And then, with all of this, 1) with our space, 2) with our awareness of temptation, and 3) with our repentance or resolve, 4) we can say with Jesus: “The kingdom of God is at hand.” We will be more able to see goodness and God.
We will find ourselves at least somewhat refreshed. We will be able to greet the daily grind in a different way.
For me, this is an entirely new approach to today’s gospel.
But it seems right to me. Maybe this is the way to approach the entire Season of Lent.