Lent – A time to reboot – First Sunday of Lent, Year B – Mark 1: 12-15

The Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent always takes us through the narrative of the temptations of Jesus. While the Gospel of Luke and Matthew will tell us the three temptations that we are so familiar with, the Gospel of Mark seems to cut to the chase; it is brief, just two verses. Jesus is led by the spirit into the wilderness for 40 days, there to be tempted by Satan. Yet while he was surrounded by the wild beasts the angels waited on him.

Right away are told that Jesus, like us, experienced temptation. But his temptation was not some chocolate cake that passed under his nose in the season of Lent; he faced the might of satan. For satan, if there was ever going to be a moment to bring down God, this was it. Interestingly, Jesus did not face just three temptations; he was tempted for 40 days and when that did not work, the Gospel of Matthew and Luke tell us how satan made one last ditch effort with his last three temptations. Then satan left him but came back at an opportune moment in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Why was satan so riled up? When you look at the text preceding the temptations of Christ you will notice that Mark talks of the Baptism of Jesus. This was the moment that salvation history had waited with bated breath. We are told that at the Baptism of Jesus, the “heavens opened.” Satan knew that if the heavens had opened then all hell had to break loose. If he had to step in to destroy Jesus and save his kingdom of darkness then this was the moment.

During the season of Lent, we too experience this reality. We are drawn to prayer, penance and almsgiving as disciplines to purify our souls. Sin has become a way of life for many of us. When the balance begins to shift, when we begin to invite the Lord into our lives, then Satan’s dominion over us is threatened. The more the Lord is welcomed into our lives the more satan will come after us with everything he has got. It would be shocking if you have never experienced this reality. Sadly, such an absence of satan’s attacks in our lives means that many of us are children of the darkness.

We need to understand our enemy, we need to understand satan. Satan is not his name, his name is Lucifer; satan is his title, his job description. This name appears 72 times in the New Testament. Satan simply means, deceiver. His deception stops at nothing. In the Gospel of Matthew and Luke, he tries to deceive none other than Jesus. Satan knows the ways of God and he knows his scriptures. Remember he was once a resident of heaven but now is a fallen angel. When he went after Our Lord with his final three temptations, he misquoted scriptures in his effort to deceive Our Lord. Christ is the author of life and THE WORD of God; that deception did not work.

Understand this, satan knew who Jesus was, yet he did not give up in his deceptive ways. If he could do that to Christ imagine how he goes after you and me. The first reading of today taken from Genesis reminds us how satan deceived the whole world at the time of Noah. Such was his dominion over the earth that God had to hit the reboot button. Every single man and woman had become a slave to satan but Noah and seven more of his kin. Let that reality set in. This is a formidable force that will stop at nothing. He once managed to cover the world with sin.

Satan attacks us when we are CLOSEST or LOWEST. He attacks us when we are closest to Christ. He can’t bear that Christ lives in us. He attacked Jesus when he saw the heavens open at the Baptism of Jesus. He sees the CLOSENESS of the Father, Son and Spirit. When this does not work, he attacks us when we are at our LOWEST. Remember how he came for Jesus in Gethsemane when Jesus was abandoned by all. He does the same with us.

Yet this is a defeated enemy. The season of Lent reminds us of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Christ defeated satan and in so doing freed us from satan. By his resurrection, he conquered death and sin. Jesus had already done the heavy lifting for us when he died on the cross. The season of Lent is the time when cooperate with the plan of God to save us.
I want to assure you that your journey through Lent, difficult as it may be, is not without assistance. In the Gospel of Mark, we are told that Christ is led into the wilderness. We are told that he will be tempted by satan for 40 days. We are told there were wild beasts but we are also told that God’s angels were with him. Know this, his angels are with you as you walk from darkness into his wonderful light.

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