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Ash Wednesday - Lenten Reflection

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The Spirit of Jesus drives us forward


Fr Michael Winstanley SDB reflects on the challenges and the gifts that surround us as we begin the season of Lent, in the  desert with Jesus.


As we set out on our Lenten journey, our annual desert safari, I'm wondering about the contours of my own desert. The Judean wilderness consisted of ravines and limestone hills, a bleak, unfriendly landscape. We are familiar with pictures of the seemingly endless, undulating miles of the sandy Sahara. Nearer home l recently gazed across the lonely barrenness of Bowes Moor, which reminded me of the flats and troughs of Kinder Scout, and the contrast of dry dust and mud bog. Wastelands assume a variety of forms. As individuals and communities too, sharers in Jesus' mission, we all have our desolate wastes. At times our lives can be dry and harsh, exhausting and barren. It is important to locate our points of vulnerability and weakness, and  to seek to identify the shapes which the wild animals of our desert might adopt. Lent invites us to face our demons.  

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The Temptation of Christ in the Desert, William Hole, 1908 (Public Domain)


We are invited on Ash Wednesday to deepen our life of prayer, to reach out to others in compassion and care, and to refrain from whatever harms people and the planet which we inhabit: prayer, almsgiving and fasting. There will be many challenges for us in this three dimensioned venture. We may feel disorientated by the noise and speed and stress of our world, disturbed by the individualism and greed around us, alarmed by the relentless march towards ecological disaster. As a member of the Salesian Family, I am deeply concerned about the impact of all this on our young people, the world over. But we mustn't forget as we wander in our desert that we are God's beloved sons and daughters, and that it is the Spirit of Jesus who drives us forward, and who empowers us as we struggle with darkness in its myriad forms. For wherever there is evil, it is a sign that the Reign of God has not yet fully penetrated. There is always a kind of tension between the Reign of God already established and present, and the Reign yet to come more completely. And so as disciples of Jesus we are summoned to work for the eradication of evil in all its dimensions: physical evil, mental or spiritual, personal evil, social, national, ecclesial, international, global evil. The ministering angels of Mark's  story are symbols which assure us that on each day's journey and quest, God surrounds us with providential and saving love, inviting us to battle on in humble hope as his partners. When the storms threaten to overwhelm us, we need to trust God's care. If we are to share our mission of Jesus, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and working to establish its values, we need to be with Jesus, to spend time in his presence, to internalise his message, to have our own hearts transformed. 


From Lenten SundaysMichael T Winstanley SDB, Don Bosco Publications



Fr David O'Malley SDB


Lord of creativity, stay with us when we are lost and waiting.  Give us time to let the deadness of the past slip away from us,  and help us to see the way ahead to new patterns and possibilities. May the path of your Resurrection continue to unfold in these times. Help us to be aware of your Spirit  nudging us and annoying us into action.  May we play our part in bringing the light of Resurrection  into the sometimes confusing pattern  of plans and relationships in our world.




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Last modified on Thursday, 22 February 2018 09:52


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