Engaging the Gospel – First Sunday of Lent

First Sunday of Lent (Year B): Gospel – Mark 1:12-15

When Jesus is in the desert, Satan tempts Him, “seeking to compromise His filial attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these attacks” (Catechism paragraph 538).

The Catechism goes on to explain how the Gospels

indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation…Jesus’ victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of His filial love for the Father.

— paragraph 539.

Benedict XVI offers his insight into this reality:

Part of Jesus’ messianic task is to withstand the great temptations that have led man away from God and continue to do so…it is not only after His death, but already by His death and during His whole life, that Jesus ‘descends into hell,’ as it were, into the domain of our temptations and defeats, in order to take us by the hand and carry us upward.

Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. 1, p. 161.

We clasp Jesus’ hand in a special way during Lent — our encounter with the Lord in the desert, where “Christ vanquished the tempter for us” (Catechism 540). It is therefore a season for us to enter more deeply into interior penance (1434-38).

We practice the penitential disciplines of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving for a spiritual purpose: to express our “conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others” (1434).

As Benedict noted, Lent is “like a long ‘retreat’ in which to re-enter oneself and listen to God’s voice,” a “Season of spiritual renewal” that helps to prepare us for Easter (February 21, 2010).

“Lent is a journey…it reminds us that Christian life is a ‘way’ to take, not so much consistent with a law to observe, as with the very Person of Christ, to encounter, to welcome, to follow” (March 9, 2011).

Question for reflection: In what special ways am I entering into the spirit of Lent?