From Today’s Gospel:
‘Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness’
As we travel through Lent, we introduce you to some of the refugees we accompany. As you hear their stories of journey and wilderness, where do you sense the Holy Spirit at work?
Fernand is from French speaking West Africa. He is proud of being a big city person:
“If you look at me, what do you really see? Is it someone who has lived in a small suburban place? No, I was born in the capital. That’s where I spent all my life. I’ve done everything there, my family’s there, everything.”
Like Ibrahim, who we met last week, Fernand has always been passionate about football:
“Since I was very young, I have known one special thing – playing football. That’s what I love. When I was very young people would come and look for me, fight over me to be on their side, on their teams. And I can go anywhere, I can play in any position. I’m still good.”
Fernand plays football here in the UK, it’s a type of therapy.
“I played a game last week and we won. It was a mixed team, and I gave my medal to a woman who lost her game.”
An Invitation to Prayer
We invite you to take some time with Fernand’s journey and today’s readings, and join with Megan, Communications and Development Manager at JRS UK, in prayer and reflection.
We so often begin and end our Lenten preparations by thinking about the forty days Jesus spent being tempted by the devil in the wilderness, as Luke’s Gospel depicts today. We focus on how we must resist our own temptations and vices: so we give up chocolate, alcohol, cakes and crisps. We show our penitence. But are we perhaps missing something greater and richer?
I was struck by the first line in today’s Gospel – before we reached the wilderness, before the devil began his temptations, before His struggle – Jesus was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” It made me wonder whether we focus so much on resisting temptation during Lent, on the action of ‘giving up’, that we forget to be open to the power of the Holy Spirit; to trust that the Spirit will guide us through the wilderness, through the struggle.
As I read Fernand’s experiences this week, I was struck – as I so often am when I speak with our refugee friends – by his strength. His strength to continue moving forwards through a hostile wilderness in search of safety, of a land where ‘milk and honey flow’ (to borrow the poetry of today’s first reading from Deuteronomy).
As we journey with Fernand this week, may we notice where the Holy Spirit is at work in him and where the Spirit is at work in us. I pray for the grace to trust in the Holy Spirit, to resist, and to perhaps even begin to counter, the hostility of the wilderness.
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