First Sunday of Lent (José Antonio Pagola)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year BLeave a Comment

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Driven out into the desert

Mark presents the scene of Jesus in the desert as a summary of his life. I will just point out a few key concepts. According to the Evangelist, The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. This is not his initiative. It is God’s Spirit who drives him out of his place and puts him in the desert—Jesus life is not going to be an easy path to success; rather, tests, insecurity, threats await him.

But the desert is at the same time the best place to be in order to listen to God’s voice in silence and solitude. It is the place where one needs to return to in times of crisis to open up paths to God in the heart of the people. That was the thinking in Jesus’ time.

In the desert, Jesus is tempted by Satan. Nothing is said about the content of these temptations, only that they come from Satan, the Adversary who seeks the ruin of humanity and the destruction of God’s plan. He will not appear again in the rest of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus sees him acting through those who, including Peter, want to turn him away from his mission.

This short account ends with two strongly contrasting images: Jesus is among wild beasts, but the angels minister to him. These wild beasts, the most violent of creatures, call to mind the dangers that will always threaten Jesus and his project. The angels, the best creatures, call to mind the nearness of God who blesses, takes care of and defends Jesus and his mission.

Christianity is going through difficult times. Following sociological studies, we speak of crisis, secularization, rejection on the part of the modern world…. But perhaps, reading our times from the point of view of faith, we need to say something more: Could it not be God who is driving us into this “desert”? Have we not been in need of something like this so that we may be freed from so much vainglory, worldly power, vanity, and false successes unconsciously accumulated over so many centuries? We would never choose these paths ourselves.

This desert experience, which will increasingly be ours in the coming years is an unexpected time of grace and purification for which we should be thankful to God. He will take care of his project. He only asks us to reject very consciously the temptations that can make us stray once again from our conversion to Jesus.

March 1, 2015
1 Lent (B)
Mark 1, 12-15

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