I hope your observance of Lent is off to a good start and that you are using the Little Black Book provided by the parish to help you focus and pray each day. Copies of that reflection book and the Little Purple Book of activities for children can be picked up in the back of church after Mass or in the parish office. You can also drive by the main door of the church and pick them up from the container set out there.
This Tuesday evening from 7:00 to 8:00 pm we will be holding our Lenten Reflection and Adoration/Benediction in the church. I will give a presentation on forgiveness and then expose the Blessed Sacrament. After some quiet time with the Lord, we will close with Benediction. Please join us. Safety procedures will be in place.
The First Sunday of Lent always presents the temptations of Jesus in the desert. While the other evangelists give a lot of detail, Mark simply tells us that Jesus was tempted. Jesus’ temptations were basically to use his gifts and power for himself, rather than others. He resisted the temptations and that clarified for Him what He had to do: He immediately began His ministry of healing, while proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
I would like to point out three small details that Mark mentions, details that shed light on our temptations and times of difficulty or “desert experiences.” We are told, “The Spirit drove Jesus out in to the desert.” Jesus didn’t want to have a desert experience. The desert experience was necessary for Him to discern how He was to live His life. Sometimes our difficulties in life, our “desert experiences,” are really a blessing, an opportunity for us to reflect and rearrange our priorities in life. They can help us find a whole new direction!
Then we are told He was “among wild beasts.” Wild beasts are dangerous; they want to devour us. The same is true of our untamed desires and emotions: they can devour us. They are always with us.
But we are also told that angels ministered to Him. So, He was not alone, He had the help he needed, as do we. God does not leave us alone. We have the sacraments, we have the scriptures, we have our faith community, and we have friends and mentors who can be with us and help protect us from our wild beasts.
Lent is a time to voluntarily look at the temptations and wild beasts that are keeping us from growing as disciples of Christ who bring love and peace to the world. I like to ask myself, “how do I want to be different when I celebrate the Resurrection this year and what practical steps can I take to make sure it happens?” I invite you to ask yourself the same question. And as we struggle to grow as disciples, let us support each other in prayer.