Mark’s gospel today offers only a few details, but it is everything we need to know. His account of Jesus’ time in the desert mirrors our lives and shows us what Lent is. As short as Mark’s story is, a careful look brings us some often forgotten reminders.
First, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit is always with each one of us and has been since our baptism. As the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the desert, so too the Spirit wants to lead us, perhaps even drive us, as well. Do we listen to the Holy Spirit? Do we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Jesus followed the Holy Spirit, even though the Holy Spirit led Him to a difficult place. We may be asked to go somewhere we would rather not go as well.
Secondly, Satan tempted Jesus for 40 days in the desert. We too are tempted. Are we aware of the temptations in our lives? Do we fight them or do we give in? Do we know what do to when we are tempted? Jesus battled with Satan. Do we realize that Satan wants to rough us up spiritually also? Or has the evil one remained hidden so we aren’t even aware of what is going on when we struggle?
Thirdly, angels and wild beasts were with Jesus in the desert and surround us in our lives as well. In Psalm 91, God promises angels to minister to us. Do we believe that? Do we ask the angels, especially our Guardian Angel, for help? Angels will come to our aid, but we need to ask them. The wild beasts symbolize all those things in life that may harm us. Do we trust the Lord for help and strength to overcome them? God will do that for us, but again, we need to ask for help.
Lent is our time in the desert where we fight the spiritual battle. We fight to become holy. Our Lenten practices of penance, almsgiving, and prayer are the weapons we use. Taking up our cross and following Jesus is the way forward for us. We won’t win every fight, but perseverance to the end will guarantee us a share in Christ’s victory.