Immediately after the Baptism of our Lord, the Spirit drives Jesus into the desert, where He will spend forty days and forty nights. The ‘forty days’ symbolises the forty years which Israel spent in the desert, before the arrival in the Promised Land.
Pope Benedict XVI said: ‘The number forty occurs several times in the Bible. In particular, it recalls the forty years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness: a long period of formation to become the people of God, but also a long period in which the temptation to be unfaithful to the covenant with the Lord was always present. Forty were also the days of the Prophet Elijah’s journey to reach the Mount of God, Horeb; as well as the time that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public life and where he was tempted by the devil. … First of all, the desert, where Jesus withdrew to, is the place of silence, of poverty, where man is deprived of material support and is placed in front of the fundamental questions of life, where he is pushed to towards the essentials in life and for this very reason it becomes easier for him to find God. But the desert is also a place of death, because where there is no water there is no life, and it is a place of solitude where man feels temptation more intensely. Jesus goes into the desert, and there is tempted to leave the path indicated by God the Father to follow other easier and worldly paths. So he takes on our temptations and carries our misery, to conquer evil and open up the path to God, the path of conversion’.
May our own ‘path of conversion’ open up this Lent as we join Christ in the wilderness in spirit. May He bless you and journey with you, as you journey with Him.