First Sunday of Lent – Sister Biddy Rose Tiernan, SNDdeN

Feb 14, 2024 | Gospel Reflections

February 18, 2024


Mark 1: 12-15

We are at the beginning of our own Desert experience on this First Sunday of Lent 2024. Wherever we are in the world, in the north or the south, the east or the west, we are surely aware of the moral  barrenness, the human desolation, the  wanton destruction of life and dearth of leadership  that envelops us and our world today. And with all of that, so often comes a feeling of powerlessness in the face of such enormous odds. Did Jesus know any of that feeling as he moved deeper and deeper into his desert time after the glorious experience of his baptism in the Jordan, and the, perhaps companionable, time he had spent with his rather unusual cousin and forerunner, John the Baptist.

The story of Noah and the promise God the Creator had made with all of Creation after the flood, presented to us in the first reading, would have been familiar to him. His confidence in his Abba must have deepened after the Baptism experience, and accompanied him into the desert. Our trust in this covenanting God must surely accompany us these Lenten days as we delve deeply into our own resources and find what we need to go out each day walking our talk.  The Reign of God is close at hand!   Richard Rohr wrote: “The presence of God is infinite, everywhere, always, and forever. You cannot not be in the presence of God. There’s no other place to be. It is we who are not present to Presence.”

Can we be present to this Presence, see it and the signs of it that manifest themselves even in the most desperate of human situations. Sadly, they do not get into the media as quickly as the dark deeds do. But kind deeds and open and welcoming hearts, encouraging words and gentle touches are there, and if we take these on for our Lenten discipline this year, we will be Signs of God’s presence in the desert around us.

These desert places around us call us to be creative and humanizing images of our God this Lent.


Mark 1: 12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The Gospel of the Lord



Meet Sister Biddy Rose Tiernan, SNDdeN

Brigid Rose Tiernan has been in Notre Dame since 1963. She was born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe, grew up in Zambia, but attended the Notre Dame Convent in Kroonstad, South Africa, where she discovered her call to be a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. She obtained a BA degree before joining the SNDs, and as an SND had the opportunity to study further in the field of Education. She has been a High School Teacher, a trainer for Justice and Peace – a life-long passion – and, latterly, has added Organizational Development and Facilitation skills to her repertoire. She lives in Johannesburg and continues her leadership in her ministry of education. She works in the SA ND archives…and loves the opportunity it gives her to get in touch with the stories that have made the Sisters of Notre Dame who they are today. Her written history of the last 50 years of Notre Dame’s JOURNEY UNDER THE SOUTHERN CROSS has been published.