First Sunday of Lent
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert…
Over the last few years I have tried to be increasingly attuned to God’s will in my life. To be a disciple of the Lord. Not just in what I “do” but in how I live and who I am. More quiet time in prayer, more encountering the Lord in the sacraments of Eucharist and reconciliation and staying closer to His Mother Mary, all hopefully to help draw me closer to the Lord and with that, knowledge of His will.
My prayer life during this time had settled nicely into prayers and dialogue with Jesus and Mary, with the occasional prayer to the Father. I have been profoundly influenced by a priest on a retreat a number of years ago who told me to have a relationship with the Lord, to talk (pray) to Him as you would a best friend. Approaching the Lord that way has improved my prayer life as has praying to Mary to lead me to Her Son. Prayers to the Holy Spirit or asking him to guide me, to be honest, have never really been part of my prayer life. That meaningfully changed as I came into this year. In homilies, books and in scripture I am hearing more and being led to an understanding of the Holy Spirit. That challenged me at first as I had my “go to” way of praying that felt very comfortable.
But in readings like today’s Gospel, we hear that Jesus was “filled with the Spirit” as He was lead into the desert to confront the devil. Just a few weeks ago we read that Jesus, returning to His home town to preach as He began His ministry, was filled with the Spirit. If Our Lord needed the Holy Spirit as He started His ministry or as He was lead to the desert to be tempted, how much more do I. How much do we all need those confirmation gifts of the Holy Spirit to help us navigate the challenges in life, and to be led by His will. The Spirit will reveal the truth Our Lord tells the apostles. The Holy Trinity is a mystery for all of us, but it is also a gift for all of us. Asking the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us, may not be part of our prayer life. But Our Lord gives us a great example of what we can accomplish when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, as can our Blessed Mother Mary. Inspired by their witness, praying to be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit is now a regular part of my daily prayer.
Steve Walsh is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, and a good friend of the Passionist Community.