We all can reflect on the road we have traveled. Many of us can identify what the "desert experience" is. Lent is a great opportunity to take self-inventory to see what stands in our way or what we need to do to grow closer to the Lord.
You may know someone who has been addicted to drugs, pornography, alcohol, cigarettes maybe gambling. When we or a family member has been addicted to something like the above, it can be very difficult for the family.
Sometimes we tend to bring on these desert experiences on ourselves. But not all, some of us have faced abuse, neglect, due to someone who was in control.
There are many people today who are in prison because they themselves were abused and unloved, regardless of any desert experience we have endured or gone through.
There is a light on the other side of the tunnel. There is hope!
Soldiers who are deployed and face danger can identify with this. Families who sacrifice normal family life give daily when their loved ones are on a year long deployment. This is a sacrifice few can appreciate because they do not know what it is for a parent to be gone for a 12-15 month deployment.
The Catholic Church gives us a wonderful opportunity to place our journey and unite it with Jesus Christ.
Through Jesus Christ, we can find strength and necessary healing from our past desert experiences.
Luke 4:18-19 quotes Isaiah 61:1-2, saying "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord".
Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection, has brought salvation to the world. No matter what sin we have done, no matter what has happened to us, we all need his help.
St. Paul writes, "We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you become a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath" (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10).
There is a lot here to consider. We see the importance of prayer in the working of our faith, the labor of love. We see a glimpse of the Trinity as St. Paul invokes the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, showing our hope, our love, and his choosing of us to accomplish his will.
St. Paul infers the Catholic Faith on a couple of instances, "our gospel" covers all the deposit of faith given to the Apostles.
St. Paul also notes that his listeners were "Imitators" of the Apostles which comes through the Holy Spirit. This gospel is proclaimed by the Catholic Church as they went forth teaching and spreading the Faith despite great affliction.
Through their preaching and witness, they turned people away from the worship of idols.
Jesus delivers us from whatever desert experience we have faced. Jesus established the Catholic Faith that is sent by Jesus to proclaim the "Good News", to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to recover the sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
This is the Catholic Faith, it has been handed down to us, yes, entrusted to us by the Lord himself through His Apostles.
If your sitting on the fence, if you have been abused or have been living in sin, St. Paul offers this advice: "Working together, then, we appeal to you not to recieve the grace of God in vain. For he says: 'In an acceptable time I heard you, ond on the day of salvation I helped you.' Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).