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1st Sunday of Lent - February 18, 2018

Traducir al Español

By Deacon Jeff Mevissen

Mark is a Gospel writer of few words so in the spirit of Lectio Divina, we rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the divine message of the Gospel.  It is interesting that Mark says the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert – not that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert or Jesus was inspired to enter the desert.  If the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert then it was a time of trial when the Father was forging Jesus into his calling to be Messiah.  This sounds strange because we think of Jesus as the Son of God and not needing formation like a priest or a deacon.  We must remember, however, that Jesus was a human being like us in all things but sin.  That Jesus needed forty days of formation does not diminish our wonder at the incarnation but increases our wonder.  God revealed God’s self through a human being and that is an amazing mystery.


This Lent we consider how God is forging us to be his servants and grow in the likeness of Jesus.  In the movie Collateral Beauty, the character played by Will Smith loses his daughter to cancer when she is six years old.  The man goes into a tail spin both personally and professionally.  Then the man is visited by three figures: Time, Love, and Death.  The man rages against Love saying, “You betrayed me!  I knew you in my daughter’s smile, in her touch, and in voice.  Love, you abandoned me.”


“I did not betray you,” said Love.  “It is true I was in the sweet moments you shared with your daughter, but now I am with you in the darkness, in the heart ache and in the emptiness.  I did not abandon you, you stopped looking for me.”  My dear brothers and sisters, let us look for love in darkness and in light and let us not resist the way the Holy Spirit is forging us to love more deeply.


Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness.  Perhaps this temptation anticipates the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prays that the cup of suffering pass him by.  This may seem to be weakness in Jesus but then Jesus goes on to pray that the will of the Father be done, not his.  This Lent we consider how we can turn from our will to the will of the Father.  A little prayer we can say in the time of temptation is, “Incline my heart to your will, O God; speed my steps along your path.”  Or, “A pure heart create for me, O God, renew in me a steadfast spirit.”


In the wilderness, Jesus was among the wild beasts.  This recalls Isaiah 11:6:

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. The calf and the young lion shall browse together with a little child to guide them.


How interesting that this passage from Isaiah follows immediately from the prophecy that the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon the Messiah – a spirit of wisdom and understanding, and spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit if knowledge and fear of the Lord.  Jesus is at peace among the wild animals and will usher in an era of peace by a Spirit of wisdom, strength, and reverence.  We turn to the Prince of Peace with another school shooting.  We believe the light of Christ shines in the darkness of the world.  We believe with St. Paul that where sin abounds, grace abounds more.  We pray for victims of violence with the Canticle of Zechariah, “In the tender compassion of our God let the dawn from on high shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and guide our feet on the way of peace.”  Then, strengthened by our faith, we act on behalf of social and political reforms that will keep our children safe.


And angels ministered to him.  That devils and angels approached Jesus reminds us that we live among the weeds and the wheat – we are surrounded by good and by evil.  Lent calls us to recognize evil and speak against it – to recognize goodness and affirm it.  I was listening to a CD from the Augustine Institute on protecting our young people from pornography.  The speaker was making clear that sex is God’s gift but can so easily be abused.  Is there any doubt that the prevalence of sexual predators among us is fueled by the pornography industry?   We must instruct our young about the meaning of Christian love – how true love seeks the good of the other and always means respecting our beloved more than self gratification.


This week we celebrate the Rite of Sending as our catechumens and candidates prepare for the Rite of Election with the Bishop.  They will be called “The Elect” through Lent and will seek enlightenment as they prepare for Easter.  We pray for them, and, as the Elect are becoming Christians we ponder how we can become better Christians.  As Candidates are become Catholics, we consider how we can become better Catholics.  We pray the Holy Spirit drives us into the wilderness of Lent to forge us into the kind of disciples the Lord wants us to be.