JESUS WAS TEMPTED BY SATAN: First Sunday of Lent [Year B] – Mark 1:12-15

Jakarta, 18 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim


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(A biblical refection on THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT [YEAR B], 18 February 2018)

Gospel Reading: Mark 1:12-15 

First Reading: Genesis 9:8-15; Psalms: Psalm 25:4-9; Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22

The Scripture Text

The Spirit immediately drove Him 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.” (Mark 1:12-15 RSV) 

Today’s Gospel reading is short but full of rich symbolism. A look at the meaning behind the symbolism helps us better understand the message of the story.

The reading begins with the Holy Spirit sending Jesus out into the desert, where Satan tempts Him for forty days. While Jesus is in the desert with the wild beasts, angels wait on Him.

In the Bible, the number forty is symbolic of transition of change. In Noah’s day, the rains came down upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. After the Jews escaped from slavery in Egypt, they wandered through the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land. Therefore, the author uses the forty days Jesus spends in the desert to alert us to a change that is about to occur in Jesus’ life, a change in which He gives up the security of the carpentry business to become a traveling preacher.

Mark, the author of the Gospel, tells us this transition in Jesus’ life is more than just a change of professions because it also involves a battle between Jesus and His troop (angels are symbolic of God’s army) and the devil (Satan) and his army (wild beasts symbolic of evil spirits). Jesus and His forces are about to mount an attack on the devil’s own territory (the desert is the dwelling place of evil spirits) in a winner-take-all main event in which the prize is control over the world.

The most vivid image of the struggle between Jesus and the devil appears in the miracles Jesus performed. Not knowing about germs and viruses, the people of Jesus’ day believed demons or evil spirits caused sickness. Therefore, each time Jesus healed someone, He defeated not just the sickness but also the devil that caused it. Each miracle, then was another victory for Jesus in His war against the devil.

According to Scripture, the struggle between Jesus and the devil is going on even today and will continue until Jesus ultimately defeats Satan and takes control of the world. When that day comes, the world will be completely in the hands of God and there won’t be any more pain or suffering or death. God will then restore the earth to what it was like before man and woman sinned.

Jesus’ resurrection proved He is more powerful than the devil. Let us now examine our conscience and identify one sinful habit in our own life. Let us pray also this week that Jesus will help each and every one of us overcome this weakness.

Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 134-135.) 

Short Prayer: All praise to You, Jesus, for Your victory over the devil! Teach me to recognize my enemy’s strategies and to overcome through faith and trust in You. Amen.

Jakarta, 17 February 2018 

A Christian Pilgrim

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Posted by on February 17, 2018 in BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS 2018


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Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 5:27-32 – Saturday after Ash Wednesday, 17 February 2018

The Lord calls Levi and then dines with an entire parliament of tax agents. He refuses to treat them as pariahs. Even if they had been an especially corrupt group, which they probably were not, their continued isolation and de facto excommunication would have done little to change them. Hence, the Lord insists on exchanging fellowship with them that they might witness His teaching put into practice even though they might have otherwise been reluctant to hear it expounded in theory.

Our own lives can provide a more powerful attraction to the unchurched and alienated Christian than would any lecture or homily. The power of example is gigantic. We preach what we practice.

The solid base on which our spiritual efforts of Lent should be grounded is the effort to heal our relationships with others.

Jakarta, 17 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim


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NUMBERS 6:24-26

Jakarta, 17 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim


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Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 9:14-15 – Friday after Ash Wednesday, 16 February 2018

The Lord refers to fasting as a way of deepening our spiritual experience of the Father and Son. Since the Lord is physically absent from among us, fasting is a way of reaching deep down within toward God.

There were three focal points to Lent in Roman tradition: prayer, alms, fasting. Lent is the great time of prayer – not necessarily more prayer as much as better prayer. There are various kinds of prayer that can bring new vitality and repose to our communion with God. Alms-giving is basically sharing. It is more that the sharing of money. It can involve an extension of our time, our life experiences  or our spirituality to others. Alms-giving reminds us of a broader world and lifts us from the narrow compass of our problems to the wider world of wrenching need around us.

Finally, fasting is much more than dieting. It means eating, drinking, smoking less. Its purpose is to enable us to regain control over our appetites, something that is especially difficult in a consumer-oriented society. If we cannot control our bodies, we will find it extremely difficult to control our spiritual selves. The effort to fast reminds us how closely we are tied to bodily gratification. It seems to be a part of universal wisdom, East and West, that fasting is vital for spiritual self-mastery.

A careful, methodical observance of Lent enables us to learn something about ourselves, about others and about God.

Jakarta, 16 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim


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PSALM 105:1

Jakarta, 16 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim


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Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 9:22-25 – Thursday after Ash Wednesday, 15 February 2018

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NAB)

The Lord asks what profit there is in gaining the entire world if a person destroys himself in the process. There are ways in which a person can stop and look at the direction in which her or his life has been going.

Religious practices are one indicator. The frequency of our Eucharistic celebrations, Scripture reading and prayer time tell us a great deal about the condition of our spiritual life. Lent is also a time to see what we do with our religion. Prolonged introspection can often reveal within us only what we want to see. Another method is to examine the pattern of our relationships with others. If we see a series of harmonious or acrimonious interactions, we discover a great deal about ourselves. It will exhibit the thrust of our life rather that isolated moments. This is one step in a productive Lent in which we can take an honest look at ourselves.

If we look at the direction of our life, we will be able to see whether; in the words of Moses (first reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20), we have been choosing life or death.

Jakarta, 15 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim