“Man’s glory is to remain steadfast, firm, focused in the service of God”(St Irenaeus).
The large numbers attending mass on Ash Wednesday gave witness to our determination to deepen our faith during the forty days of Lent; a time already consecrated by Jesus’ forty days in the desert.
Jesus is driven into the wilderness (desert) by God’s Spirit. Jesus needed forty days in the wilderness, before proclaiming the “Good News”. Writing last week, Bishop John Arnold suggested we find a quiet place at home, a corner, a chair; a dedicated space for prayer. We can add this church and the chaplaincy chapel. Simple silent prayer will deepen our faith. It enables the soul to embrace God; to be embraced by God.
“Do you really believe that Jesus was tempted by Satan?” Tempted, just as we are? The divine/ human person of Jesus is a mystery of our faith. Mysteries of our faith are not puzzles. They are an invitation to a deeper faith. Here the invitation is to linger long on the fact that Jesus as a human being could be tempted. The more we come to realise Jesus shared our human nature, the more we will come to love him.
Many people suffer brutal deaths. Jesus was brutally crucified. Anxiety and terror can destroy peoples’ lives. Jesus suffered likewise in Gethsemane. Sadness and disillusionment! Jesus wept with such emotions over Jerusalem. Jesus understood Jairus’ sorrow at his daughter’s death; the shame of the woman taken in adultery; the embarrassment at Cana’s Wedding Feast, when the wine ran out!
The Old Testament begins with the destruction of Paradise in Genesis: Adam and Eve, the deceitful serpent, temptation given into, God. Mark’s “Good News” (the New Testament): Jesus, Satan, temptations – this time resisted; friendly wild beasts, the Holy Spirit, helpful angels. Paradise restored. Humanity back on track! Let us anchor our faith firmly in Jesus our Saviour, who suffered and was tempted as we are.
Ian Tomlinson SJ
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