Sunday, March 1, 2009

Temptation and the Desert

Today is the First Sunday of Lent. I had the 1.15 Mass and we sent 5 adults who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil and 2 others who will receive Confirmation and Holy Communion as well, to the Diocesan Rite of Election. It is always great for the catechumens to see how many others are coming into the Church along with them.

The Gospels particularly suited to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) are those from the YEAR A cycle of Sunday readings. Those would be the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert Mt. 4:1-11), the Transfiguration(Mt. 17:1-9), the Samaritan Woman at the Well (Jn. 4:5-42), the Cure of the Man Born Blind(JN. 9:1-41), and the Resurrection of Lazarus (Jn. 11:1-45). You might find the reading of these Gospel accounts particularly fruitful, especially if you think about baptismal themes and images. Water, its presence and absence; darkness and light, rebirth and healing; make a list as you read and keep the word "Baptism" in your head as you read.

The Church is in YEAR B of the Sunday Cycle this year.

Today's Gospel is St. Mark's account of the Temptation of Christ in the Desert (Mk. 1:12-15). All three of the Synoptic Evangelists - Mark, Matthew(Mt. 4:1-11), and Luke (Lk. 4:1-13) -- tell the story. As you can see, the others took a longer time to tell the story and elaborate more on it. St. John doesn't have any account of it and St. Mark tells it in two verses really. In the Matthew and Luke Gospels Jesus is "led by the Spirit" whereas St. Mark tells us "the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan." It's another one of the "energy" words we frequently find in St. Mark's Gospel. He wants to tell the story of Jesus' ministry. Anything extraneous to it, like the mission of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus and the temptation account take away from the story of Jesus' mission and, for St. Mark, the urgency of belief in Jesus for the Gospel's hearers and readers.

Three little baby girls baptized today! How wonderful for them and for their families!

God bless you!