Gospel Mark 1:12-15
Our Lenten journey every Sunday is a Catechetical Liturgy in preparation for Easter. This catechetical teaching is based on Baptism. Practically every Sunday there is one symbol or element that is related to Baptism. Today we have the symbol of water; the symbol of the person of the Holy Spirit. Water as we know is an element of life, it brings life, and it brings purification, refreshment. But water can also bring death, calamities and can destroy. Then in the middle is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes the waters of sin and the waters that destroyed in the time of Noah, the waters that gave life in the Resurrection of Jesus and in the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was brought by the Spirit out into the desert and wilderness. If you think about our experiences from the 27 March 2020, particularly families, churches and communities in SA were brought into the wilderness. We are in the wilderness at the moment with the consequences of the lockdown – isolation, loneliness, illness, losing jobs, losing members of the family, and the temptations that come with it – despair, fighting, losing hope, losing faith and other sufferings that we experienced.
We are in the wilderness, in the middle of this desert where we feel temptations of our faith. How do we believe in God in times of difficulty, how do we trust God in this time of illness, how to continue to nourish our faith, how can our Churches be closed? We feel the temptation to slowly get spiritually dry or the total opposite – to believe that if you go to Church and pray then nothing will happen to you because God will save you. That is the devil, because we need to follow what Jesus did.
When the devil tempted Jesus and told Him to turn the stones to bread and to throw Himself off the temple, Jesus refused because it was not His Father’s will. In the desert Jesus was with the wild beasts, which symbolised evil and danger, but He was also served by Angels. To whom are we listening to today? Who is leading us today? Are we tempted to follow the beasts, the message of the enemy of God or are we following the Angels? Where is the Holy Spirit leading us through this time of difficulty? This is the conclusion of the Gospel, after Jesus finished His forty days of fasting in the wilderness, it was the time to fulfil that the Kingdom of God is at hand.
This year we learnt a lesson – don’t think too much about tomorrow, think about today. Tomorrow we don’t know what will happen but the Kingdom of God is at hand. Today, as we heard in the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday, this is the appropriate time we are invited to repent and to believe. These are the two elements that will help us to reach Easter, together with the other three pillars that the Church is giving us during this particular time of Lent – Prayer that’s helps us to accept our spirituality, helps us to grow in trust and hope that God will do His will on us, prayer that can be converted into sacrifice – Fasting not only from food, but fasting that makes us better Christians, persons, citizens, members of a family. The real fast we are invited to do is to grow in justice, to grow in a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, and then by consequence to charity – Charity that is not only about giving something, charity that is converted into mercy, patience, listening, into forgiving again and again.
Let us pray that during this Lenten season we can believe in our Angels and overcome the temptations of greediness, power, losing hope and faith. What is the greatest temptation? What was the temptation of Judas? I don’t have a mission, I cannot be saved, be rescued, and be loved. This temptation will be overcome if you grow in prayer, in self-control and in charity in our families and in our community. Amen.