Homily for the first Sunday of Lent - Year B - Mk. 1:12-15
Father Daniel Meynen
"The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.' "
"The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness."
Jesus is this Man, guided by the Spirit to manifest and communicate to all men the Word of God whom He is in person. Jesus is both God and Man. It is always from this perspective that we must contemplate him and listen to him. When Jesus lives and speaks to us, we must never lose sight of the divine aspect of his person, the divine aspect that is fundamental and essential, and how very important! Let us remember that the divinity of Jesus has often been doubted, and has even been denied many times during the centuries since the early Church. Is it not this divinity that the Jews themselves, for the most part, had rejected, and was this not the first and most important fact that caused Jesus to be delivered to the executioner and crucified? Did the Jews not boldly say to Pilate in person: "We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God" (Jn. 19:7) ?
"The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan."
The Jesus who goes into the desert, driven there by the Spirit, is God himself who is going into the desert in order to meet Satan. But Satan is blinded by his pride, and, when he meets Jesus, he does not see God in him: he sees only a man, or at least, he wants to persuade himself at any cost, in his incurable blindness, that he whom he sees is a man, and nothing but a man. Satan does indeed say to Jesus: "If you are the Son of God..." (Mt. 4:3 and 4:6), but he does not believe it: Satan is already condemned, and if he believed that Jesus is the Son of God, he would have been immediately justified, since, as Saint Paul says (cf. Rm. 1:17), it is by faith that we are justified. No, Satan - and this is also true of all who are seduced by him - does not believe in the divinity of Jesus. This is why he has the reckless audacity to say to Christ, showing him the entire world: "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." (Mt. 4:9) No, Satan does not believe that Jesus is God: he sees in him only the Man, the one who would be rejected by his own people and crucified for them.
Jesus, who is God, is driven into the desert by the Spirit. But it is as a Man that He is tempted by Satan. What a magnificent and courageous example for us! Jesus, our light, our way, shows us his example: He is there to instruct us, to show us the path to follow, that of resistance to Evil and to all those who incarnate it. Jesus, driven into the desert by the Spirit, wants to be tempted by Satan in order to show us that victory has already been won in Him and through Him, for the Glory of his almighty Father!
So what is it that we must do to resist temptations, if not to be united to Christ, to be one with Him, to belong to Him, to belong to God in Christ, through Him, and for Him? For Victory is in Him and in no other! And as soon as we belong to God, we no longer belong to Satan, we no longer belong to those who do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. So this is what we must do and what we must ardently desire to do: we must believe in the Son of God, we must believe that Jesus is God. This is what Saint John tirelessly repeats in his first epistle, which is an admirable catechism of the purest and most limpid Christian faith: "This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith." (1 Jn. 5:4)
"Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God..."
After having been tempted by Satan in the desert, Jesus began his preaching in Galilee, calling his first disciples, among whom was Peter, and performing his first miracle at Cana. Then he stayed for a while in Judea, around the time of Passover. But, after the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee. It was then that the event told in today's Gospel took place: "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God..."
"Jesus said, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.' "
The moment when Jesus said "The time is fulfilled" was truly the precise instant when his ministry became manifest and his fame began to spread. It was then that he accomplished the Will of his Father: to make public and well-known the presence of the incarnate divinity, of the divinity who had come among men to redeem them and to make them participants in the life that does not end, in the life that is a life in fullness, a divine, supernatural life! Jesus comes to reveal to the entire world the great Mystery of the Incarnation, and to call all men to follow him in this apostolate... But they must follow him all the way to his death on the Cross! Let us pay close attention: the ministry of Jesus is not an easy ministry to carry out! To be an apostle who follows Christ supposes that one has firmly decided to change one's life, to change one's ways and habits: "Repent, and believe in the gospel."
" 'Believe in the gospel.' "
It is all there. If we believe, if we truly believe, that is to say if we are attached to Jesus, following him by renouncing our evil ways, then we will be saved! Satan would then be conquered by us, we who belong to Christ, and the time will truly be fulfilled for us, and we will then live of the very life of God, which shines throughout the whole world through the presence of the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ sent by the Father to lead and guide us!
But above all, if we believe in the Gospel, we will be faithful to God, like Mary, the first of all believers and their model in the faith! We can then be called blessed, like the Virgin Mary and the Apostle Peter. The Lord will then be able to say to us: "Blessed is she who believed..." (Lk. 1:45), or: "Blessed are you, Simon..." (Mt. 16:17) May Mary and Peter help us through their almighty intercession, for the glory of God and the salvation of the world!
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