First Sunday of Lent, Year B – February 22, 2015
I. SCRIPTURE REFLECTIONS
During Lent, we strive to focus our attention on Jesus, his clarity of mission, his intimacy with God, and his faithfulness to the new covenant. These three aspects of Jesus’ self-understanding still stir us today. .
The story of Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan precedes the account of his temptation in the wilderness (cf. Mk 1: 9-13) and the beginning of his Galilean ministry (cf. Mk 1: 13-15). Jesus’ baptism is a religious experience where His self-understanding and his call to ministry embrace. His ‘anointed of the Spirit’ empowers him to hear, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11).
This story can serve to enlighten our understanding of the Spirit of God in our lives. Like Jesus’ coming to John to be baptized, there comes a time in our spiritual journey when we, too, realize that we are being called beyond ‘the ordinary way.’ We feel deeply that we have to surrender the ordinariness of our lives, in order to release a new energy for mission. Claiming our gifts, speaking our truth and taking risks isn’t easy. We, like Jesus, so often enter into a ‘desert’ of temptation to ‘go back to the way it was.’ We hear the demons of: “Who do you think you are?” Am I good enough,” or “what will people say?”
The temptation that Jesus experienced couldn’t lure him into the immediate ease of satisfying temporal needs or secular glory. He remained faithful to His new self-understanding as Servant-Messiah. Jesus was energized immediately and proclaimed: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Especially during the Lenten season, the Church presents both Jesus knowing God’s unconditional love and God’s desire that we ‘repent, and believe in the gospel.’ Jesus is the icon of ‘giving witness’ and ‘letting the Spirit lead.’ These dispositions come from our Baptism and are the way we are disciples in our world today.
II. EXAMINATION OF THE HEART
Have you experienced ‘being driven’ in a positive, challenging spiritual awakening like Jesus at his baptism? How does ‘being driven’ in ministry or community life keep you from being attentive to the Spirit? How are you tempted to ‘go back to the way it was.’ Are our temptations and ‘wild beasts’ the fear of these questions: “Who do you think you are?” I’m not good enough,” or “what will people say?” How do you proclaim that ‘this is the time of fulfillment?” Do you ‘give witness to ‘the kingdom of God’s’ being here and now—at hand?
Can you appreciate that ‘repent and believe in the gospel’ means we have to let go of attitudes and behaviors that limit God working in our lives to bring hope, humor and happiness?
Sara Dwyer, ASC