The timeline of Jesus' journey into the wilderness is interesting. At his baptism, he heard the voice from heaven saying "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased" (Matt 3:17), and then he went alone into the wilderness for 40 days. There is nothing like being alone in the wilderness to show you how insignificant you are - it does not matter to the sun or the blue sky whether you are there or not, the insects and other creatures keep doing what they do, the wildflowers and grasses continue their life-cycle uninterrupted. Only the flies might alter their course somewhat, and this has nothing to do with your importance as much as your possible need for a shower. Being alone in nature is a great way of knowing that your existence does not matter that much in the grand scheme of things. And yet in Jesus' temptations, we see a mirror of our own temptations to be spectacular, grand and uniquely indispensable. If we get caught up in our own self-importance, believing that we are somehow God's gift to humanity, we will end up manipulating and cajoling people to play their part according to our self-centered agendas, rather than being able to love and serve them from a place of true compassion.
Somehow we have to learn to hold together the humility that we discover when we are alone in nature - knowing that our lives are utterly small and dispensable - with knowing that we are the beloved of God. Henri Nouwen wrote: "If you dare to believe that you are beloved before you were born, you may suddenly realize that your life is very, very special. You become conscious that you are sent into this world to believe in yourself as God's chosen one and then to help your brothers and sisters know that they also are beloved sons and daughters of God who belong together. You're sent into this world to be a people of reconciliation. You are sent to heal, to break down the walls between you and your neighbours, locally, nationally, and globally. Before all the distinctions, the separations, and the walls built on foundations of fear, there was unity in the mind and heart of God. Out of that unity, you are sent into the world for a little while to claim that you and every other human being belongs to the same God of love who lives from eternity to eternity."
Posted by Sharon Grussendorff