FEB. 21. LENT. WK. 1. SUN. MK. 1. 12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.
After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’
The Holy Spirit “drove” Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, immediately after his Baptism; - which was the start of his public life; - and there he was tempted by the devil to behave in ways that put himself first; - rather than the Will of his Father.
The period of forty days is very significant as it represents the forty years God’s chosen people spent in the desert; - being purified and educated; - before they entered into the Promised Land. It was a period of learning, of maturing, and of being purified of sin and selfishness.
So, what we have here is Christ’s public life beginning with his Baptism by John the Baptist, and then immediately he is “driven” into the desert to be tempted by Satan!
There is a clear parallel here with our own Baptism as Christians as, from the moment we are baptised, we are also faced with constant and persistent temptations from Satan to follow his ways, rather than the Will of God; - temptations that will continue for forty years (which represents our lifetime!)
As a result, there is a very powerful “lesson” being given to us here, namely, that from the moment of our Baptism we too have to go into the desert; - for forty years; - to be tempted by the devil, and to resist his temptations for the duration of our lifetime; - before we enter into the Promised Land of Eternal Love with our Creator!
This is a struggle we cannot win, alone! But we are not alone! Note how we are told in this reading “Christ was with the wild beasts”, but also that “the angels looked after him”! And we too have a great deal of assistance during our forty years in the desert, in the form of Christ’s Church; - together with Prayer, Sacrament and our Faith that was also given to us at Baptism!
We know, form our own experience of earthly life, that Satan is relentless in his temptations; - but we also need to be aware we are not alone in this desert; - and that Christ is with us; - but it is important we acknowledge this truth; - in the way we live our earthly life; - as we need this divine assistance (Prayer, Sacrament and Faith) if we are to “get through” this struggle!
Christ’s own lifetime ended with his Passion and Death on Calvary, so it was far from being an easy life; - and our sufferings are insignificant compared to his; - and we need to keep this truth in mind; - together with the purpose of our earthly struggle, namely; - the purification of our heart from its attachment to sin, pride, and selfishness!
The second half of today’s reading moves the focus from earthly sufferings and temptations to focus on what is to follow after our “forty years in the desert”; - and our need to “believe!”
“Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’