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Encountering God in the ‘desert’

The story is told about a man who got vaccinated, but on his way home, he felt dizzy and had a blurred vision. He frantically called the vaccine center, and asked the doctor what he should do. The doctor’s reply was: “Come back here as soon as possible. You forgot your eyeglasses!”

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In today’s gospel (Mk. 1, 12-15), Jesus was tempted by Satan while He was in the desert for 40 days, after which He came out proclaiming His gospel message with conviction and clarity. Any “desert” experience, be it pain, loneliness, trials, or deprivations, can make our vision clearer, our horizon wider, and our resolve stronger.

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Tears lighten the heart, and clear the eyes.

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“No pain, no gain.” The message of Lent is prayer, sacrifice, and good works. Without these, there can be no real progress in our journey to God’s heart.

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“Repent…” This is the opening salvo, the initial message of our Lord when He started His public ministry. Without repentance, there can be no conversion, and without conversion, there can be no real discipleship.

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“Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Let this be our constant prayer and mantra. If we forget this, we forget to be humble to God, and without humility, we will lose our way in our journey. Humility, humility, humility.

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What does it mean to “believe in the Gospel”? Believe that there is a God who loves us, “for God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3, 16), and that we should love one another as He has loved us (Jn. 13:34). We are believers of the Gospel if we believe in, and spread God’s love.

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Wild beast and ministering angels were with Jesus while He was in the desert. We can be angels or beasts to other people. Let us choose to be angels that minister, and let this be a choice we make every day, and in every situation we encounter.

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A lot of people are going through a “desert experience” during these days of the pandemic. There is financial, physical, emotional, and spiritual dryness around us and within us. Let us draw strength from our “Living Water” who promised that He will never let the well run dry.

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Think about this: “When from the darkness comes no light; when from the weeping comes no laughter; when in the day we hope for night, nor any comfort coming after, grant us peace.” (From the Breviary Night Prayer hymn for the Lenten season)

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To fellow pilgrims going through any temptation, trial, or suffering: Let us be strong and not lose hope. Remember that the Lord will not desert us in the desert.

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Lent is the time to go back to the basics, let go of nonessentials, and travel light. Lent is the time to let go of the “desserts”—worldly pleasures and treasures—and leave our comfort zones, to go to the desert so that we will encounter the God who calls us to come closer to His heart.

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We don’t know until when we will be in the “desert” of COVID-19. There are hopeful prospects up ahead with the coming of the vaccine, but the virus is still there, so let us be extra careful. Let us help each other on, follow rules and regulations, listen to our medical experts, and let us draw strength from our faith.

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Don’t forget the three P’s when you go through any “desert” in life: Prayer, Patience, and Perseverance.

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A moment with the Lord: Lord, we believe that You will not desert us in the “desert.” Amen.

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TAGS: Gospel, Jerry M. Orbos, Moments
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