In The Desert
First Sunday of Lent
February 22, 2015
Readings: Genesis 9:8-15, 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15
At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Meditation: Ralph Stewart
Every year on the first Sunday of Lent we hear one of the stories of Jesus being tempted in the desert. This year we hear Mark’s version which is quite a bit shorter than the others, but still speaks of Jesus overcoming temptation.
Facing temptation is never easy, but it is even more difficult in stressful situations. I certainly think being in the desert for forty days would not be an easy ordeal! Jesus is our ultimate example in how to live, and he faced temptation under very trying circumstances. He showed us it is possible to resist the lure to turn away from God and what we believe even in arduous situations.
If you squeeze an orange, orange juice will come out. You won’t get grape, mango, or grapefruit juice; just orange juice. People are just the same. If they get squeezed (stressed) whatever is inside them will come out – anger, resentfulness, love, compassion. It can be easy to put up a pleasant front if everything is going alright, but when we get stressed we tend to let spill out whatever we are holding inside us. In other words, the strains in life that squeeze us tend to show what’s really going on within us (good or bad).
Jesus had to have been frazzled fasting in the desert, yet he was cool and confident in dealing with temptation because that’s what was inside him. He is the definitive example of peace and love that we should all try to emulate.
We need to find places in our lives to nurture that goodness that is part of each one of us. That may be at church, in nature, traveling, time with family, exercising, private prayer, or any other way we can find it. Focusing on cultivating that peace and love in our lives will help us in our desert experiences. That may be stress at work, dealing with people that we don’t get along with, negotiating rush hour traffic, or any other situation we find difficult. If we are filled with peace and love, that is what will spill out to those around us. We will be spreading the “good news” of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
This Gospel story ends with Jesus saying “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” This sounds like a great thing for us to fill up with this Lenten Season, and we can spill out that message whenever we are squeezed.
Have a blessed Lenten journey.
Pray, Reflect, Discuss
What are the things that tempt me in my life?
Where do I nurture myself to come in touch with the peace and love of Jesus Christ?
Where are my desert experiences (what squeezes me)?
What will I do this Lenten Season to share the “good news”?