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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Desert Epiphanies

"Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Mt 4:1

Twice in Matthew gospel there is an Epiphany, a moment of enlightenment and clarity. for Jesus and all of us, his followers. The first occurs as Jesus emerges from the waters of the Jordan and hears God's words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” This is an Epiphany of a kind we all enjoy and seek. It is an affirmation, a light come to us from afar, a confirmation of our identity as God's child.

The second Epiphany is very different. Jesus is in the desert, the place of terrible cold at night and unbearable heat during the day, and he remains there for forty days and nights. This is a dark Epiphany, a time of affirmation surely, but accomplished in the shadows. Though Jesus is ministered to by angels, he is also among wild beasts. His life is being threatened and his integrity is being challenged. Today's Epiphany is daunting, one which most of us would rather avoid.

The challenge of the Gospel is clear. When we can allow God to be God and look for God in the dusty and suffocating corners of life, we are acknowledging that we are made in God's image. God is not made in ours. While we know that suffering is not something we seek in itself, we also know we cannot avoid suffering altogether. Every life is full of light and dark. Knowing that God is always with us, even when we cannot understand God's ways, is the key to our faith. The road to Easter joy must go through Calvary.

Today, return to an unhealed place within your heart and let God be with you.

Recount a time when you discovered God in the "desert."

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