Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

First Sunday of Lent

Jesus Tempted.jpg

 

Mark 1. 12-15

"The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness"

We will remember from just a few weeks ago, when we celebrated the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, how Jesus was baptised by John; the Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove; and God spoke directly to him: "You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you." Now, today, we hear how "immediately, the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness".

The same Spirit who came down upon him in blessing at his baptism now drove him into this barren place, with the wild beasts, to be confronted by Satan. Here, led by the Spirit, his battle against the power of evil has begun. This is to be a struggle between the power of Jesus, the beloved Son on whom the Spirit rests, and the power of Satan and his demons. It is a conflict between good and evil that will last beyond these forty days; from here on Jesus will meet, engage with and overcome Satan's opposition. It is a conflict between good and evil that continues still in the world at large and in our own lives, and will continue until the definitive victory of Christ when he shall come again.

Over us too, baptised in water and the Holy Spirit, God proclaims "you are my beloved child; my favour rests on you". There may be times when we can feel the closeness of God, savour those warm words, and trust in the powerful presence of the Spirit. At other times we may feel we are cast out in our own sort of wilderness, threatened by all manner of 'wild beasts'; times when God seems absent, when we feel dried up, tempted, ready to slide or even give up. Especially in such times we need to recall it was the Spirit who drove Jesus into the wilderness, and that "the angels looked after him". For us too, the wilderness may be the place where the Spirit leads us to grow in faith.