Today’s readings may be found here.
Listen to this homily being delivered here.
My brothers and sisters, we are with Jesus in the desert, being tempted along with Him. We may be in the desert tempted to accumulate wealth. We may be in the desert tempted to acquire the car, the pool, the mansion, or the second mansion. We may be in the desert tempted to accumulate power, to be the boss of others, to be in control of what others do and say. We may be in the desert tempted to despair because of the loss of a loved one, because of addiction to alcohol, drugs or sex. We may be in the desert tempted to despair because of a serious illness to ourselves or others. We may be in the desert tempted to despair because of the loss of a job and security, because of the loss of friends, because of the loss of prestige. We may be in the desert tempted to despair because of depression, because of anxiety, because of fear, because of the oppression of others.
But, Jesus Christ came to proclaim the Gospel, the good news that we are not destined for this desert we find ourselves in, but that we are destined for the garden of Heaven. We were designed for the Garden of Eden by God, not the desert. We are called to reach the bounty of Heaven, not to endlessly languish in the desolation of the desert. We are loved by God who wants us with Him, not in the desert!
It is through sin — our sins and the sins of others — and the Enemy who seeks to capitalize on those sins, that we find ourselves in the desert. Jesus Christ was tempted by the Devil, as we are as well. But, as St. Augustine said, let us not think of the temptations without thinking of the victory. Jesus Christ came to be tempted in the desert as we are, in order that He could save us from all of those temptations. Jesus Christ came to redeem us and has won the victory that has redeemed us, and He desperately wants us to turn to Him in our temptations and in our sin.
Whatever our desert may be, no matter how much it may be, no matter how difficult it may be to live the lives that we have, Jesus Christ wants to walk that life with us. If we desire Him walking next to us, helping to carry our burdens of temptation and sin, He will be right there with us. So, let us turn to Jesus, return to Jesus when we fail, and return and return and return to Christ as many times as we need to, as long as it takes, knowing that when we call in faith, He will be right there beside us, as the Father was beside Jesus when He Himself was tempted. Let us let Him lead us out of the desert into the Promised Land of Heaven.