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Has anyone seen the TV show Alone on the History Channel? I’m alone in that, huh? Alone is like a Survivor show, but it’s pretty realistic. They pick ten people and take them to the most remote parts of the world. They must live out there and survive for as long as they want. They’re allowed to pick ten things with them when they go. They might take a fishing rod with a line, an axe, a net for fish, or a fire starter with them, but they’re only allowed to pick ten things. They have to be really selective about the ten things that they pick. Then they go off into the wilderness. They’re given all their own camera equipment, and nobody is recording them but themselves. They only have a satellite phone, like a call box, with a button they can push. When they push the button, it’s called tapping out. When they push that button, they’re tapping out; they’re done with what they’re doing. It’s fascinating to watch because the shortest tap-out ever was six hours.

I don’t know what that guy was doing on the show, but he only made it six hours. He saw some bear, bear something, and he was afraid of bears, so he tapped out. The longest ones have gone over 100 days that they’ve lasted in the wilderness. I noticed something pretty consistent when they’re ready to tap out. You can tell when somebody starts to say to the camera, “I’m thinking that I don’t how much longer I can do this.” One guy said, “I’m going to take a walk, and when I come back, I’ll decide if I’m going to tap out or not.” You know, from the moment they begin questioning, they will tap out. They tap out within a matter of minutes or hours after they begin questioning.

In the season of Lent, as we increase our prayer and almsgiving, as we’ve made these resolutions during Lent, we might be tempted to tap out and say, “I can’t do it anymore. I’m going to tap out.” If we even start to think about tapping out, we’re probably going to tap out. If you think about breaking you’re fast early, you will probably tap out. If you think, “I’m not going to pray today,” you will probably tap out. I think, “I haven’t thought of a way to alms give,” probably going to tap out. We are given these three tools for Lent. It’s the only thing we have for Lent that we go into this wilderness for, that we need to survive. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. 

As we enter this season more deeply, I encourage you to renew your conviction in your resolutions. If you haven’t made a resolution yet, make a resolution to increase your prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, all three because those are the tools that we have. Those are the tools that we need to survive this wilderness of Lent.

When people tap out on the show, they often tap out because they get to go home. Sometimes they tapped out just because they missed their family. Sometimes they tapped out because they were completely fatigued, exhausted, or couldn’t find anything to eat and were losing it. When we have that temptation to tap out, it’s really important that we not only do what we intended to do but double down on it and say, “I’m really going to do it today, and maybe I’ll even do just a little more to overcome that temptation to tap out.” 

We hear in the first reading Abram is called to leave everything he has. He’s called to go into the wilderness, leave his father’s house, to leave that, his kinsfolk, and to go into the wilderness. When he goes, he’s not quite sure what he’s going for, but he’s following God’s prompting. It’s probably very difficult for him to leave that situation. Does anybody know where God was leading Abram? He was leading him to the promised land. The same is true for us as we go through this season of Lent. God is leading us to the promised land. Lent will end with Easter. 

Lent originally began as a rite of initiation. For those coming into our faith, the 40 days were set as their final initiation time before receiving sacraments. One of the guys on Alone was forty. He was going on there because he wanted to have an initiation experience. He wanted to know what it would be like to be initiated, kind of like a tribal thing. Sometimes we never had that experience as an adult because we were baptized as a child. How many of you were baptized as an infant? Raise your hand. Okay, so pretty much all of us, or most of us, were baptized in infancy. Lent becomes a time of initiation. It’s a rite of passage for us to go through this conversion. We go through this uncomfortable time where we pray, fast, and give alms. Just like the people in Alone, they go out there, and they’re pushed to their absolute limits, physically, mentally, and spiritually, of what they can endure. 

In the gospel, we hear that Jesus transfigures before his disciples. As he’s transfigured Peter wants to build the tent and stay there. He wants to stay right there with the glory of God. But Jesus says to him, “We must go,” again, leaving the comfortable situation, leaving the beautiful situation, and entering then will take them into the passion, death, and resurrection. This time for us is an initiation, so Lent, hopefully, is not comfortable for us. Hopefully, we’re experiencing what it really is to sacrifice, to push ourselves spiritually, to really experience a new way of life so that when we come to the end of Lent, we’re new people. We’re initiated into this new life and will come to the paschal mystery of his suffering, death, and resurrection.  We will come to the promised land. If you’re tempted to tap out on your prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, I invite you to let this be a time to renew your resolutions and be strong in your faith. And, whatever you do, don’t tap out.