Lent 1 (Year B)
Jesus is tempted in the wilderness
'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.' (Mark 1:12-13)Have you ever been into a desert? I have. I remember going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land when I was in secondary school and spending a day or two in the Negev desert with some Bedouin tribes-people. I remember it being a very special experience. It was very hot during the day and very cold at night. The landscape was bare and barren, with rocks littered over the sandy ground. I remember getting up early to drink some incredibly strong coffee and to watch the sunrise. I recall the wilderness as being austerely beautiful, but inhospitable - you would not want to be left there alone!
In today's Gospel reading Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Spirit, tempted by Satan and then protected from wild animals by angels. He is there for 40 days and nights. Jesus went into an inhospitable and barren land. He went into the wilderness - a place of hunger, loneliness and trial. We may not have visited an actual desert, but we do sometimes go through times of wilderness in our hearts. In some respects, Christianity is not an easy faith and we are not guaranteed an easy ride. We are followers of Christ; and as he went into the place of fear and abandonment, so do we go sometimes: maybe in the wake of illness, emotional trauma, grief or injustice. But we are not left there: Jesus lived, suffered and died - but then rose again. This is the good news! Yes, life can be tough and cause us to travel through the wilderness, but we know that even death itself can't separate us from the love of God and that we have the promise of eternal life - a place of perfect love, peace and joy to look forward to. Amen.