Collection: In The Wilderness

ARTIST: Fr. Bob Gilroy, SJ


Jesus stands in water with open hands beside a broken world on fire that contains colored tissue paper and a father holding a child. They walk through buildings destroyed by war.

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The Wilderness Experience of Jesus

Matthew, Mark and Luke all describe Jesus' wilderness experience (Mt 4:1ff; Mk 1:12ff; Lk 4:1ff). They tell us that the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The verb "drove" in Greek has a nuance of compulsion and violence, thus the Spirit violently hounded Jesus to go to the wilderness " this wasn't going to be a trip to a beautiful mountain retreat; the devil of hell was going to hound him for forty days in a desolate wilderness! A wilderness in the Hebrew Scriptures is a barren, arid and dry place, a void, and a place where no life grows or thrives " it is a place cut off from life; a place inhabited by monsters and demonic forces; a scary place; a place of chaos; a place of wandering and restlessness. This was the place where the newly baptized Jesus was violently forced to dwell, and where he would encounter Satan himself. It was there in the desert that Jesus suffered from hunger, thirst, and loneliness" it was there that He was tempted to desperation, and to give up on God altogether. No doubt, many of you have gone through several wildernesses " perhaps a life-threatening or serious illness, the death of a loved one, separation from a partner, the suffering of a child, the death of a dream, failure, addiction, bankruptcy, loss of reputation, rejection of a friend, and on and on. As has been commonly stated by theologians, "Our baptism (i.e., our conversion) offers no respite from the struggles of life" like Jesus, all of us are eventually thrust into the wilderness of life."