“Drive to distraction is one thing but driven into the wilderness is another.”
I have been troubled by the concept of wilderness this week. The term tends to summarise many a conversation entered into, but happily, not all.
For some, the wilderness is the assumption played out in the media that the fault in Canberra is that the person was a staffer. W hat about the action itself?
For others it is the seeming insanity of guns and America.
For others, it was the headlines in the Age and the subsequent badly and ill-informed writing that followed attacking the wealth of the Church.
For others it was being told that you have heart failure.
Wilderness was not always considered as a bad dark place. In the great stories of the history of Israel, Moses fasted for forty days at Sinai. Elijah did the same near Mount Horeb. And good things came to the people, including the Commandments as a way of living an appropriate life. There are green shoots to be discovered in the desert; not so much the ones we are looking for, but rather the ones that God has in store for us, if we can stay the distance. In a manner of speaking, that is the call of Lent: to find the true wilderness and to hear the message God has for each of us.
Jesus emerged from his wilderness to proclaim the Good News from God. That will be the hope for each of us too. That concept is wonderfully expressed by Peter in the excerpt proclaimed today; his reflection on the new sacrament of Baptism.
As in Mark’s day, so in ours. Our path to faith led us, via Baptism, to an acceptance of the promises offered down the ages, in particular, that God would be faithful despite our wildernesses, and that He continues to love us now. Like them, we too, have to be on our guard, acknowledge that the Kingdom of God is close at hand, repent and believe the Good News.
Let’s enter Lent with great confidence.