We have entered into the season of Lent, forty days to prepare for the coming feast of Easter to renew our baptismal promises. Forty days to reflect, fast and give alms. What if we had forty days with only one focus in order to grow in our relationship with the Lord? What if we had forty days to do nothing else but reflect on the daily scriptures, practice our faith and as Matthew Kelly often says, “become the best version of ourselves” and be on a kind of continuous retreat?
Jesus had forty days in the desert to fast and pray before beginning his public ministry. Our ancestors in faith wandered in the desert for forty years until they were ready to enter into the promised land. Eating manna and quail for forty years. Of course, these are not literal time periods, but the number forty indicates a long time, a symbolic time. For Jesus he spent a long time in the wilderness facing his fears and concerns before facing the devil and making his statements of faith and trust. The Israelites probably wandered for the length of time it takes for one generation to be born and one generation to die. In other words, it took time for people to experience a change of heart, experience a conversion for the Lord, reflect on and understand what it means to be in a covenant relationship with the living God.
Clearly developing our faith is part of our day to day lives when we choose to insert time for prayer, reflection and meditation. It is in that time when the Spirit can breathe life into us, encourage us to live our faith for that eventual final transformation. The disciples, Peter, John and James were privileged to experience the Transfiguration of the Lord on the mountain, to experience his radiant glory along with Moses and the prophet Elijah. They were fully prepared to stay on the mountain. However, for most people on a faith journey sudden moments of glory rarely happen, more often than not, growing in faith is a slow gradual, plodding process with occasional moments of inspiration, glory and delight in the Lord’s abiding love.
Rarely do we have forty uninterrupted days to set aside from our full and busy lives, but taking regular time in prayer can yield marvelous moments that keep us going, keep us growing, keep us living.
Blessings – Father Larry