40 days and 40 nights: that is the time that the synoptic gospels coincide in pointing out that Jesus was in the desert praying, fasting and being tempted by Satan. Forty days without eating and drinking in the desert is not endurable, pardon the expression, not even God in his humanity. Since the intention of the evangelists was not to narrate an epic of a hero named Jesus, but to faithfully reflect the salvation history of God-with-us, we deduce that those 40 days mean something that we can only understand with the interpretation keys of the readers of the time.
Benedict XVI explained it to us during Lent 2012: "40 is the symbolic number by which both the Old and New Testaments represent the most outstanding moments of the faith experience of the people of God (...). This number does not constitute an exact chronological time, the result of the sum of the days. It indicates rather a patient perseverance, a long trial, a period sufficient to see the works of God, a time within which it is necessary to make up one's mind and assume one's responsibilities without further delay. It is the time of mature decisions".
The Flood lasted 40 days, Moses was 40 days on Sinai, the people of Israel walked 40 years in the desert and for 40 days we too will walk towards Easter in this time of conversion that begins on Ash Wednesday and that we call Lent. But will this Lent be enough to convert me or how many Lents will I need? How long will this non-chronological time last in which God will test my perseverance? How many hours, days, months or years will I need to see the works of God and the miracle of orienting my whole life towards Him?
While I was reflecting on this, I came across the story of Juan Manuel Igualada, known as "the last conscript of the military service", who died unexpectedly a few weeks ago, almost three decades after the fateful accident that caused him serious brain injuries while he was doing his military service. He was 19 years old at the time and, until his death 28 years later, this replacement soldier remained in a vegetative state, bedridden in the Gómez Hulla Central Defense Hospital. At his side, Milagros Durán, his mother, who did not hesitate to leave her home and her job in Cuenca to move to Madrid to take care of her son.
How long are 28 years? More than 10,000 days, at the foot of a bed, washing him, shaving him, talking to him every day to get as a response just a few involuntary movements or moans with no more sense than what a mother is capable of interpreting, putting love and hope before logic. 10,000 days of deprivation, of much prayer (Juanma's room looked like a shrine full of holy cards and images of the Virgin Mary), of thinking of others above oneself... Fasting, prayer, almsgiving... What a long Lent for Milagros and what an example for the world! How many temptations must she have had to face in this, her time?
Lent begins today, and today is a time to believe, to hope against all hope, for the miracle of faith to appear and to put it to the test... Lent is only a time, a time of miracles.
Journalist. Graduate in Communication Sciences and Bachelor in Religious Sciences. He works in the Diocesan Delegation of Media in Malaga. His numerous "threads" on Twitter about faith and daily life have a great popularity.