This has got to be one of the shortest texts for a Gospel in
the whole liturgical calendar. It is just four verses and
only seventy words altogether.
Mark’s account of the Temptation in the Desert takes just
two verses and is about as succinct as you can get. It is just the bare facts. The other Evangelists give much more detail describing the various temptations at length accompanied by complex dialogue between Jesus and the Devil.
But Mark has none of this; it is just the bare facts, as far as he is concerned Jesus was in the desert for forty days and was tempted by the Devil. He mentions also that he was with the wild animals and also was ministered to by angels and that is it –nothing more.
Like Matthew and Luke though, Mark is clear that it was the Spirit that took Jesus into the desert to be tempted. The words Mark uses are very strong. He says, “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness.” Matthew and Luke say that he was merely led by the Spirit.
The use of the word ‘drove’ is no accident; it reflects the great dynamism present in the Gospel of Mark who frequently has Jesus doing this or that ‘immediately’. His use of vocabulary means that there is a feeling of constant movement in this Gospel which is much shorter and therefore much more action-packed than the others.
The point here though is that God is in charge and it is he who is the catalyst behind the actions of Jesus. It is the Spirit of God that forces Jesus into the wilderness and so inaugurates his public ministry. Mark is not so concerned with the struggle between Jesus and the Devil as with the fact that he resisted temptation and then begins his ministry.
In the last couple of verses Jesus goes into Galilee and announces that, “The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.”
I am sure I have told you this before but in Greek there are two words for time Chronos and Kairos. Chronos means time that passes; we use it in this sense when we say someone has a chronic illness, meaning that it is an illness going on for a long time. The word Kairos which Mark is using here means a favourable time or a decisive moment.
So when Jesus says that the time has come he means that the propitious moment has arrived for the proclamation of the Gospel to begin. He means that everything is now ready and that this is the time chosen by God for him to begin his ministry. It is at this appointed time that the Kingdom of God begins to break in to our world.
Mark certainly manages to pack a lot into a very few words: forty days in the wilderness, the temptation, wild beasts and angels, the arrest of John the Baptist, the journey into Galilee, the proclamation of the Gospel and the formal announcement that the time has come for God’s definitive intervention into our world.
We are left breathless and amazed that all this is packed in to just four short verses of the Gospel of Mark.
In the First Reading we are told about how after Noah and his family were saved by the Ark God made a covenant with him and gave the sign of the rainbow to act as a reminder of it. Then in the Second Reading St Peter recalls the Ark and tells us how those events so long ago are a foretaste of our Baptism.
What we need to understand from this sequence of scriptural readings is that God makes decisive interventions in our world. He sent the rain after forewarning Noah to build the Ark. His Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted and so launched his public ministry. And it is God too who decisively intervenes in our lives through Baptism making us members of his body and washing us free from original sin.
The message is clear, it is God who is in charge of the world and he makes his interventions in our world at moments of his own choosing when, according to him, the time is right; when the Kairos or the propitious moment has arrived.
We need to realise that God has not done this just a few times and then left us to it. No God is constantly intervening in our world. Of course, some of these interventions are more decisive than others and some of them might only concern us, though some are clearly much more significant than that.
We can easily think about God’s many interventions in our own lives: we can think of our birth into our particular family, our Baptism, the choice of school, job, partner in life, children and all sorts of things that many people might describe as coincidences but that we know are actually crucial parts of God’s plan for us.
God’s Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness but he is also constantly driving us. God is the unseen force behind all that happens to us as we go through our lives. We know that he respects our free will and he gives us the choice as to whether to cooperate with him or not; but, make no mistake about it, he is deeply involved in everything that happens to us, everything that goes on around us.
When Jesus announced that the time had arrived for the proclamation of the Gospel and invited us to repent and believe the Good News he was not suggesting that this moment had arrived and the next moment it would be gone.
No what Jesus was saying is that from then on would be the favourable time to repent and to believe. That special moment is not some fleeting thirty seconds that occurred two thousand years ago; no, that moment carries on until the very last day.
That favourable moment is now. There is no better time for repentance and accepting the Gospel than this moment now. Conversion is something that is always going to be a good thing and we should embrace it now, this very minute.
The Kingdom of God is truly very close at hand; it needs to be grasped by us now. We need to embrace it with all our hearts so that our lives are truly transformed and his salvation is made wonderfully present in our lives.
Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
February 22, 2015
First Sunday of Lent, Year B—February 22, 2015
Today, we hear Jesus announce the familiar call of the Church during Lent: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
Gospel (Read Mk 1:12-15)
In one of the lectionary’s shortest Gospel readings, St. Mark describes the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Right after His baptism by John in the Jordan, “the Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.” St. Mark, unlike the other evangelists, doesn’t give us details of the temptation. His focus is on the forty days and on Jesus’ contact with both fallen and ministering angels. Why is it important to know that this was a forty-day event?
First Sunday of Lent: The Weeping Jesus
The grave purple colors, the ashes and sticks, the lack of flowers, crosses everywhere, all remind us that this week we begin Lent.
“Here we go, again,” we might think. “No, not already,” we might protest. Maybe we’ll look into our religious storeroom and cart out some of practices we’ve stored since last Spring. Let’s see, “Oh yeah, I gave up………last year. That worked. Hmm, I also gave up alligator nuggets. Not a whole lot of desire for those anyway. Hmm, I made extra time for some spiritual reading, that was good. I made a contribution to Catholic Relief Services. That worked.” And so, we pull out of the closet well worn items to enter the season properly.
Jesus’ Ministry Begins: 9 things to know and share
This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent, and we read about events that occurred at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
Following his baptism, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness—his own, personal equivalent of Lent.
It was a time of preparation for the beginning of his public preaching in Galilee.
Here are 9 things to know and share . . .
A Prophet’s Legacy
Have you ever been the excited recipient of an inheritance? If so, you may have received money, property or a treasured family heirloom. As a high school student I became one of the beneficiaries of my paternal grandfather’s inheritance. Knowing that I had intended to go on to a Teacher’s College, he had investigated the tuition for the four years, which came to a grand total of $600.00. Obviously that dates me! Gone are those days however! But I was able to enter and complete college without any financial concerns, thanks to his departing gift to me. As welcome as these legacies are, more important, however, would be the inherited treasures left by St. Elijah, prophet of the Old Testament and inspiration for the Order of Carmel.
Audience: Children, a gift for the family, the Church and society
(Vatican Radio) Continuing his catechesis on the family this Wednesday Pope Francis spoke about the joy of children in family life and how the choice to have children is not irresponsible but vital for a healthy, happy society.
Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear brothers and sisters,