The Desert: The First Sunday of Lent

The First Sunday of Lent: The Desert

Lent is a metaphor for our life on earth, with the Easter season as the conclusion as the metaphor of heaven. If Lent is our journey here on earth, then let’s look at the particular themes provided by the Church during these Sunday’s of Lent as aids or helps for our journey to heaven.

The first Sunday of Lent is always the Temptations of Jesus in the Desert. This is where I’ll focus today, and specifically “the desert.”  But the other Sunday themes will be:

First Sunday of Lent Mark 1:12-15 Jesus was tempted by Satan
Second Sunday of Lent Mark 9:2-10 The transfiguration – This is my Son, my beloved.
Third Sunday of Lent John 2:13-25 Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up
Fourth Sunday of Lent John 3:14-21 God loved the world so much
Fifth Sunday of Lent John 12:20-30 Unless a wheat grain falls to the ground and dies

The wandering of the Hebrews in the desert. The flight of the prophet Elijah into the desert. And of course John the Baptist proclaiming the Kingdom of God in the Desert, it is no wonder Jesus began his ministry in the desert. It is a place that must be experienced.

The desert is more than a metaphor. It is a reality.  And within that physically reality, are spiritual implications.  There is a “spirituality of the desert.”  Let’s examine a few of the spiritual realities of the desert.

The desert has no respect for the person, or their position, rank, or ability. It is a harsh reality for every single person who enters into it and tries to live there, or live in the spirituality. The desert is place without refuge, a place that is harsh with extremes in temperature, and a place where storms can come up quickly, and animals or insects can harm you silently. It is a dangerous place.

The spiritual of the desert is equally harsh with no respect for who the person is. Within the spirituality of the desert one experiences isolation, boredom, an imagination that goes wild, self-deception, frustration, and depression.

After entering into a vocation of married life, priesthood, religious life, or even a new job, we often enter into the spirituality of the desert after 5-10 years of beginning. The newness is worn off, and the reality sets in. We will find ourselves many times back in the desert, not just a one-time trip. We even at times such as a retreat, will make travel plans to be in the desert, and at other times, life creates a turn for us, and we find ourselves in the desert.

Secondly, the desert allows for no compromise. It must be experienced in order to get to the mountains. The spirituality of the desert is also without compromise. In order to grow spiritually, we MUST travel through the desert, and do so in silence and solitude.

Solitude does not mean abandonment of the world, or escaping the world, but rather finding one’s inner hermitage. This solitude might be forced upon us by being misunderstood, disliked, or even in a new place, new apostolate, or new season of one’s life.

Solitude allows us to “Go and sit in thy cell, and thy cell shall teach thee all things.” It invites us to seek and find God within ourselves, rather than in community or through the apostolate. It is a lonely journey, but necessary one.

Silence goes along with solitude. Of course in solitude there is no one to talk with so that makes sense, but we can run from it, filling it with busyness or music, or reading. But, silence and solitude serve to unite us with others, for the more we are alone with God, the more we are united with one another.


The desert is both a place and a spirituality. Perhaps you will never experience the place, but you WILL experience the spirituality.  You have no choice!

But remember, you are not alone. Others have gone before you in this arid place and spirituality, and their traces can still be felt in your own particular desert.

You are not alone, nor are you there just for yourself. For it would be serious mistake to think we go to the desert for ourselves or for our own personal sanctification.   No, personal consecration is always, in part at least, for the sake of others.

The desert. A place and spirituality with little or no respect for the person; we all must travel through it. and a place or spirituality which allows no compromise:  a place of silence and solitude with ourselves, with the Lord, and for others.

Have a blessed Lent

Father Ken



About SLCwichita

A premier retreat & conference center operated by the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. We welcome you to this holy ground to rest, renew, restore & respond.
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