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Gospel reflection

February 18, 2024: First Sunday of Lent

Gospel: Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

Reflection

Lent is here, and let’s be honest: A lot of people like Lent. It’s somewhat fascinating how people embrace the rigors of Lent. We seem to be looking for ways to add action to our spiritual lives. The fasting or abstinence from meat, almsgiving, and added prayer we’re encouraged to do during Lent perhaps feel a little more tangible and concrete than the routine we find ourselves in the rest of the year.

We get a very short version of the typical First Sunday of Lent Gospel reading this year. Jesus was sent to the desert, he was tempted, he stayed out there in the wild for 40 days, and angels ministered to him. That’s it. So, do we need a rigorous program of self-denial this Lent?

If we look over today’s first and second readings along with the psalm, there seems to be a hint. God makes a promise to Noah, symbolized by the rainbow — a covenant of care. The excerpt from Peter tells us the flood foreshadowed baptism, though “(baptism) is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience.” Are we turning to the outward activities to clear our consciences? If so, of what? The psalmist answers, saying “(God’s) ways are love and truth,” and continues by confessing our desire to be guided and taught, to have compassion and justice in our lives. Maybe our longing for “tougher actions” is because we’re seeking ways to forgive ourselves of times we’ve failed to be charitable or forgiving, gone overboard with something, or became inattentive to prayer. We know God forgives.

The brevity of today’s Gospel coupled with the hints dropped in the other readings are reminding us, as Saint Mother Theodore did, to “lean with all your weight upon Providence, and you will find yourselves well supported.” God desires relationship with and among us, not a ledger sheet of what we owe and what we pay in to a spiritual budget. It takes practice, but we’re allowed to slip up — and try again.

Action

Suggestion: Make your plan for Lent and beyond. How might you repent (change)? Where should you balance fasting and feasting? Can you practice Sabbath moments regularly to renew (and perhaps revive) your relationship with God and others? How do you exercise hospitality and love? How will you re-energize these practices in a year-round routine without making them mundane?

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Brad Crites

Brad Crites

Brad Crites is a Providence Associate and former webmaster and adjunct faculty member at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. He specializes in teaching and learning as well as organizational culture and change dynamics. He is committed to philanthropy and community development as a Lilly Scholar Alumnus. He currently works for Purdue University as an Educational Technology Consultant. Brad lives with his wife, Tiffany, and their children, Brooklyn and Brett, on their historic family farm near Solsberry, Indiana.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar Paula Damiano SP on February 16, 2024 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you, Brad for this inspiration. Lenten Blessings!

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