THE SUNDAYS OF LENT are the building blocks of the Season. Week by week,the Sunday liturgy draws us more and more deeply into the Lenten season and in preparation for the Easter Mysteries. Week by week we will outline here the main themes of the Sunday Gospels for Lent.
Sunday 18 February 2018. 1st Sunday of Lent. Mark 1:12-15
On the 1st Sunday of Lent, the Gospel is always the Temptations (testings?) of Jesus in the period between his baptism and the beginning of his ministry. This year, we read Mark’s account of this episode. Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark does not list the temptations. He merely tells us that:
“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him”.
What we do know is that Jesus emerged victorious from this because he immediately begins to proclaim the Good News that the Kingdom of God is at hand. So what’s going on here?
The ‘testings’ of Jesus come between his baptism and the star of his proclamation of the Kingdom of God. When Jesus was baptised, the remarkable event of the presence of the Father, Son and holy Spirit (the only time this ever happened in a way that human senses could experience) meant that thee Godhead, the Holy Trinity. was present to the world of humans. God the Father speaks (a rare occurrence, because Jesus is the Word of God who speaks); the Son of God immerses whimsy in the River Jordan and in his Mission; and the Holy Spirit is seen in the form of a dove (we don’t know why a dove, but we do know that spirits, and therefore the Holy Spirit, are not usually visible). The presence of God in the world of humans is a powerful sign that God intends to destroy the power of evil once and for all. But will God, or Satan win? The fact that Jesus emerges from the desert and immediately proclaims the kingdom of God is at hand is a powerful indicator that the power of Satan is soon to be destroyed. Satan’s total defeat comes with Jesus’ death and resurrection, but in Jesus prevailing at this period of testing, Satan is served formal notice that evil is already on the way to total defeat.