L1B – 21 Feb 2021
Message by: Fr Richard M Healey
Every year at the beginning of Lent, we are invited to journey with Jesus into the wilderness. The Gospel we have just read is sometimes called the temptation in the wilderness or the desert. This is an appropriate name for the similar story that is told within the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. But here in the Gospel of Mark, the emphasis is really not on the temptation at all. The wilderness itself is the centre of the action and the attention. Like the great figures that had journeyed into the wilderness before them, Israel had often been invited to be tested in the wilderness, especially during the years of desert wandering. Here the Spirit after his baptism in the wilderness drives him out – like Jesus will so often drive out demons in this gospel.
All that Mark tells us of this encounter is that he was there in the wilderness for forty days and the wild animals were with him. It is not immediately obvious if that is a good thing (like a re-imagining of the Garden of Eden, or of the Messianic images of lion and lamb lying down together, as in Isaiah 11) of introduced as an object of realistic fear. The animals that did then exist were indeed fearsome. Thankfully this is paired with the more comforting truth of the angels ministering to him.
Through all of this we are invited into our own wilderness adventure where we can let go of all of those things that may otherwise get in the way of our relationship with God.
- Lent Sunday 1, Year B. Mark 1:12-15.
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