Reflection on the First Sunday in Lent Feb 21, 2021

Again, we hear the words spoken by God: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

The Gospel of Mark 1:9-15 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Let us Pray: Everlasting God, your son Jesus Christ was tried and tempted by the devil. May we never be ashamed of temptation but saved from the weakness of giving in.  Help us choose the way of faithfulness rather than popularity, service rather than fame and sacrifice rather than power. This we pray in your Name. Amen

Jesus, after his baptism by John, was in the “spiritual wilderness.” He was tempted, as we are, but he did not sin. He did not succumb to temptation. Have you ever gone to a spiritual wilderness where you needed alone time to find your way? Are we going through spiritual isolation as we all are still being extremely cautious? I wonder if we can look at the struggles around us in light of this story and ask, ‘Even though I did not wish for this, how might God be at work through this difficult period. What can I get out of this? How might God use me to help someone else?’ In today’s Gospel, Jesus has been baptized, and has been affirmed by God as God’s beloved Son. This must have been an awesome moment for Jesus! But beyond that affirmation, Jesus knew he had earth-changing work to do. The possibilities must have seemed endless. So, when the Spirit sent him out to the wilderness, Jesus was able to discern which of these possibilities affirmed God’s will, and which did not. After his forty-day wilderness experience, Jesus began his earthly mission, which was to proclaim God’s kingdom and call God’s people to repent. We know that Jesus through His journey worked to do God’s will. Does our journey do God’s will. We must work to continue to do the work Jesus started. When we have to make decisions in our own lives, it is important to choose the course of action that affirms God’s Kingdom, and show the presence of that kingdom in our own lives. This is a huge challenge in today’s world, and it will not be easy. Lent and Easter are a reminder to us to listen to the still, small voice, to allow ourselves to follow in his steps. Remember that Jesus himself has walked this path for us. As we can do that, we will begin to experience some of the victories Jesus won for us in that wilderness experience and make the witness he made at his baptism.

Let us Pray: Gracious God, help us to see this time of Lent as an opportunity to develop our discipleship and discipline and as your Son Jesus showed us how to reject temptation, fill us with grace to be faithful to his example in this Lenten season and the years ahead. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

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