Hard to believe that it’s the first Sunday in Lent already. Well, not really. Ash Wednesday was, like, last Wednesday wasn’t it? So we are full-fledged into the Lenten season with purple in abundance. So how are we doing with the “taking on” rather “giving up” approach to the 40 days? Just a thought.
The reading for today comes from my favorite Evangelist, Mark.
Mark’s Gospel reads like a mystery story…more on this at another time. It’s a very cool, 2000 year-old story. Check it out, it only takes about an hour to read. So anyway, here is the snippet from the Gospel:
“The Spirit drove Jesus 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.” (Mark 1)
I love Satan stories. No not the ones Rick Santorum talks about, the real ones the biblical ones. You already know the story about Jesus spending 40 days in the desert fasting. I think one of the Gospels says that after the 40 days “Jesus was hungry…”(Matthew 4:2). A bit of an understatement don’t you think? If I don’t get my donut from 7/11 in the morning, I will starve and hallucinate. But Mark doesn’t talk about food in the desert much. He has a cryptic line “…tempted by Satan.” I can only imagine that at one’s low point (the bad days) all sorts of ideas can creep into one’s mind. Satan, the evil one (sorry for getting all Santorum on you) the dark lord, the prince of lies, finds this weakness enticing and inviting because he lives for weakness. Ignatius Loyola in his meditation on the “Discernment of Spirits” encourages the person not to make drastic choices while in this “down” state of mind. But wait until the darkness begins to fade and lift before making any life-affecting decisions. Wise words. Jesus kinda does this as well. At his low point (40 days with only wild beasts to keep him company) waits until the light clears his head before making any changes. Although Mark doesn’t tell us exactly what happened to Jesus in the desert, we can only surmise that the presence of the “angels” gave him comfort. It’s as if they are telling him (and I suppose, us) that we are not alone, even when we are alone. Don’t listen to the promptings of the voice that seeks to make us unloving people living in the dark. Listen to the voice(s) that bring us back into the belief that we are lovable and worth the price of admission.
…and so it goes…