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The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent (Mark 1:12-15)


The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert (1:12).

christthetemptationSaint John Chrysostom: "The Spirit drags Jesus into the desert, since he wanted to draw the devil there; and Jesus gave occasion to him not only on account of his hunger but also on account of the place: for then most especially does the devil attack when he sees people isolated and by themselves."

Mary Healy: "As Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden, Jesus is driven out into the desert."

Father Francis F. Moloney, S.D.B.: "The promise of the beginning (Mk 1:1) indicates that the prologue of the Gospel of Mark is linked to the prologue to the human story, as it was told in Gn 1-11.  Jesus was driven into the desert to reverse the tragedy of the Adam and Eve story, to reestablish God's original design."  The Lord once found his people in a wilderness, wasteland of howling desert (Dt 32:10).  That is where we first find Jesus; and that is where he first finds us — in a wasteland of sorrow, confusion, suffering, sin.

And he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him (1-13).

Father Francis F. Moloney, S.D.B.: "In the Genesis story Satan's victory over Adam led to hostility and fear in creation.  In the Markan story that situation is reversed: he is with the wild beasts.  Jesus' corning has restored the original order of God's creation."

Saint John Chrysostom: "Since Jesus both acted and experienced all things with a view to our instruction, he is content also to be led up to that place and to wrestle with the devil in order that each of those who are baptized should not be troubled as if the matter happened contrary to expectation, but should continue to endure all things nobly.  Indeed, for this reason God does not prevent temptations as they come by: first, in order that you may learn that you have become much stronger, then in order that you may remain temperate and not over-excited by the greatness of your gifts, for temptations have the power to humble you; then in order that the evil one, by inquiring through the torture of temptations, might be satisfied that you have completely forsaken him; fourthly, in order that you might become stronger and hard as steel; fifthly, in order that you might through this receive a clear proof of the treasures entrusted to you.  For the devil would not come upon you if he did not see you brought to greater honor."

Thomas à Kempis: "When a person of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, they realize clearly that their greatest need is God, without whom they can do no good.  Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply.  The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute person is tempted in many ways, Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are.  Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.  Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones.  A person, indeed, is not worthy of the sublime contemplation of God who has not been tried by some tribulation for the sake of God.  For temptation is usually the sign preceding the consolation that is to follow".

Father John Justus Landsberg: "From this episode our first lesson is that human life on earth is a life of warfare, and the first thing Christians must expect is to be tempted by the devil.  For this reason, the Lord desires his disciples to find comfort in his own example.  Reading in the Gospel that Christ too was tempted by the devil immediately after he was baptized, they will not grow fainthearted and fearful if they experience keener temptations from the devil after their conversion or baptism than before — even if persecution should be their lot"

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God.  "This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel" (1,14-15).

Saint Bernard: "Repentance is the feeling of a person irritated with himself."

Father Francis F. Moloney, S.D.B.: "the basic meaning of 'repent' is a radical turning back.  An almost physical image is conjured up, disclosing an urgent need to stop in one's tracks, turn from all that leads away from the Kingdom, and become part of that Kingdom by believing in the Good News."

Monsignor Romano Guardini: "Repentance is an appeal to the deepest mystery of the creative power of God.  Repentance does not cover up sin.  On the contrary, repentance is truth.  It tries to see things as they really are.  Repentance is itself a gift.  When man comes to God with his repentance, the living God is already in him and has given him repentance.  Something has not been merely covered up: I have been born again.  I begin again."



magnificatgeneral1Magnificat "The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent (Mark 1:12-15)." Magnificat (July, 2018): 276-2786.

Reprinted with permission of Magnificat.  

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