As we begin our Lenten journey, the temptation of Jesus in the desert is presented to us as it is annually on the 1 st Sunday. This year the account of Jesus’ desert experience is from Mark. In comparison with the Gospel’s of Matthew and Luke the details in today’s gospel are sparse indeed. Mark only tells us that Jesus was driven into the desert by the Spirit for forty days where he was tempted by the devil. He was led there in spite of himself. He was tempted by the devil but also ‘angels ministered to Him’. There are two sides to His desert experience.

The desert in the Bible is associated with testing and the hardship one must endure to become more spiritually aware. It signifies new life, new growth, transformation, a change from one great task to another. The Spirit is the One who drives Jesus into a time of isolation, of preparation for all that lies ahead.

The desert experience is not a once off for Jesus (nor for us). He returned there often to pray. Sometimes he brought others with him, and in Mark it always precedes a turning point in his life. He emerges with a new-found energy. In today’s gospel passage it precedes the beginning of his ministry – He goes into Galilee and begins to preach:   

The time has come

The kingdom of God is at hand

Change your ways and believe the good news.

 

This Lent is the Now in which we live, and we are offered another opportunity to refocus:

To allow the Spirit to lead us,

To change what needs changing in our lives,

To go into the desert to emerge with a new sense of our Mission and Ministry,

To go to Galilee, to the marginalised people, maybe not physically, but certainly in our heart and prayer.

‘Your ways Lord are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.”Ps.25

                                 

Bridget O’Driscoll OP