Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!

Today, first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with Jesus tempted in the desert (cf. Mk 1:12-15). The text says: “He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan”. We too, during Lent, are invited to “enter the wilderness”, that is, silence, the inner world, listening to the heart, in contact with the truth. In the desert, today’s Gospel adds, Christ “was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him” (v. 13). Wild beasts and angels were His company. But, in a symbolic sense, they are our company too: indeed, when we enter the inner wildness, we can encounter wild beasts and angels there.

Wild beasts. In what sense? In the spiritual life we can think of them as the disordered passions that divide the heart, trying to take possession of it. They entice us, they seem seductive, but if we are not careful, we risk being torn apart by them. We can give a name to these “beasts” of the soul: the various vices, the coveting of wealth, which imprisons us in connivance and dissatisfaction, the vanity of pleasure, which condemns us to restlessness and solitude, and the craving for fame, which gives rise to insecurity and a continuous need for confirmation and prominence – let us not forget these things that we can encounter within – covetousness, vanity and greed. They are like “wild” beasts, and as such they must be tamed and fought; otherwise, they will devour our freedom. And let helps us to enter the inner wilderness to correct these things.

And then, in the desert, there were the angels. These are God’s messengers, who help us, who do us good: indeed, their characteristic, according to the Gospel, is service (cf. v. 13): the exact opposite of possession, typical of the passions. Service against possession. The angelic spirits instead recall the good thoughts and sentiments suggested by the Holy Spirit. While temptations tear us apart, the good divine inspirations unify us and let us enter into harmony: they quench the heart, infuse the taste of Christ, “the flavour of Heaven”. And in order to grasp the inspiration of God, one must enter into silence and prayer. And Lent is the time to do this.

We can ask ourselves, first, what are the disordered passions, the “wild beasts” that agitate in my heart? Second question: to permit the voice of God to speak to my heart and to preserve it in goodness, am I thinking of retreating a little into the “wilderness”, am I trying to dedicate space in the day to this?

May the Holy Virgin, who kept the Word and did not let herself be touched by the temptations of the evil one, help us on our Lenten journey.