The holy season of Lent opens before us. The first Sunday of Lent always has the Spirit leading into the desert of repentance to search our hearts, hoping to resist what is evil and to embrace all that is good. Forty days from now we will find ourselves at the foot of the cross. How can we prepare ourselves for this? Jesus’ words at the beginning of his ministry are, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” When we were sprinkled with ashes on our head on Ash Wednesday the mandate again was, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”
Unlike the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness takes a mere two verses in the Gospel of Mark. What is especially helpful about Mark’s shortened account of the temptations is that we appreciate how he has framed them. In just six verses, we begin with the baptism of Jesus. “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” We then hear of the temptations, but immediately after, we read of the mission entrusted to Christ in his preaching the Kingdom of God which is at hand.
This framework is the same for each one of us. We should never see our temptations as just failures or a particular weakness. We should see them within the frame of our having been chosen by God and then entrusted with a vocation. Both of these realities remind us of our worth and our purpose. These moments of God’s grace are the only way that we can overcome our own temptations. Let us find ourselves able to approach the cross forty days from now with profound gratitude for what our Lord has done for us.
Love, Peace, Joy,