Scripture Reading: Mark 1:12-15
Welcome to the first Sunday of Lent. Today’s gospel reading focuses on Jesus’ wilderness experience. The wilderness is an unpleasant place, humanly speaking. We naturally want prosperity, health, and other material things. But the same God who created the garden also created the wilderness. There will be times of trial and pressure. Our faith will be tested. But the God of grace will meet us even in the wilderness. What is wilderness experience? A wilderness experience is often a time of intensified temptation and spiritual attack. It can involve a spiritual, financial, or emotional drought. Having a “wilderness experience” is not necessarily a sign that a believer is sinning; rather, it is a time of God-ordained testing. A “wilderness experience” is often linked to a “mountaintop experience”; that is, the struggle (wilderness) which follows success of some kind (mountaintop). The period of trial comes on the heels of a period of accomplishment or achievement. William Barclay wrote: “No sooner was the glory of the hour of the baptism over than there came the battle of the temptations.” There are several biblical examples of people enduring a “wilderness experience.” The people of Israel, in leaving Egypt, experienced a miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea. The triumph of finally being free from slavery was their “mountaintop experience.” Yet what followed was a journey through the desert. They were tried in an actual wilderness, and they failed the tests. As a result, their “wilderness experience” stretched for forty years. In a “wilderness experience,” a believer may struggle simply to survive from day to day. Financial, material, physical, or emotional burdens may press on him. The flesh cries out for relief. The believer is forced to wait on the Lord, find God’s peace and joy in the midst of trouble, and through it all, mature in his walk with Christ. Paul offers this encouragement for those who “have this treasure in jars of clay”: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7–10) Child of God, Jesus’ wilderness experience lasted for forty days, for Elijah it was forty days and for Moses it was forty days. Forty days is the Hebrew regular phrase for a Lenten /consideration time. The forty days of this Lenten spiritual exercise remind us that no matter how long your wilderness experience maybe, the Angels will always be available to attend to you as they did to Jesus. There is always divine reinforcement to assist you during your wilderness experience.
MASS: VIOLET Gen 9:8-15; Ps 25: 4-5ab. 6-7bc. 8-9 (R.10); 1 Pt 3: 18-22; Accl. Mt 4:4b; Mk 1: 12-15 FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
Prayer Point:
1. Take the prayer “Stay with Me, Lord” by St. Padre Pio.
Exercise: Pray the “Divine Mercy Rosary”.
Meditation: Psalms 91:11