Tag Archives: JESUS CHRIST

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 

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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

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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

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Jakarta, 14 February 2018

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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in MISCELLANY


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Since the early days of the Church, Lent has been set aside as a time to encourage believers to draw near to God as they prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Traditionally, we prepare for Easter through forty days of increased prayer coupled with personal acts of self-discipline such as fasting as well as alms giving.

The word “Lent” comes from an Old English word for “springtime” – a season when new life is wrested from the clutch of winter. Lent is our time for revival and renewal – the springtime of the spirit.

We have all been through enough Lents to realize that complete transformation probably will not occur. But Lent is an opportunity for repair work in a specific area of our life that might need reconstruction.

Maybe we (you and I) have doubts about the faith or questions about things we do as a Church. Lent is a time to resolve the doubts and get some straight answers. Maybe we have been carrying personal wounds that have been eating away at us. Lent is a time to find ways to let the healing begin. Maybe our spiritual life is stuck in neutral and we want to be able to pray as easily and spontaneously as Jesus did. Lent is a time to start to experience prayer.

Each of us has some part of our life that needs a lift and some remodeling. Lent is less a time for pain and punishment than it is a time for healing. As the Prophet Joel says in the first reading: Nobody is exempt. Call everyone together – priests, lay people, young and old. This is the levelling significance of the smear of ashes: beneath all our differences, we all need renewal.

How do we start? One way might be to arrange to talk for a while with a priest or another fellow Christian or with the family. Another way might be to select a book carefully. There is a great deal of good writing on every area of life and concern to Christians. Be sure, however, it is a book with a size and style with which we feel comfortable. Also, so that our Lenten resolutions do not disintegrate as our New Year’s resolves may have, we might share what we have chosen to do with someone else. We can then encourage each other.

Lent is not a time for temporary improvement until Easter after which we go back to business as usual. The purpose of Lent is to make a lasting change in our life. If that is something about which you have been thinking, Saint Paul says in today’s second reading that “This is it!” This is the time! Right now! The iron is hot!

In the Gospel reading, the Lord reminds us not to go through the motions alone because this is serious business. If we are willing to undertake this effort and to experience through our Lenten resolutions the death and Resurrection of Christ, we must step forward to receive these ashes, ancient symbols of penance and renewal. We must come forward as we all begin to walk together this very personal road from winter to spring, “from ashes to Easter.”

Jakarta, 14 February 2018 [ASH WEDNESDAY]

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Today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 8:14-21 – Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Jesus warns His disciples against being infected by the skepticism and cynicism of the Pharisees who had turned religion into a game.

In today’s reading we see the disciples fret about not having enough to eat, even though Jesus has fed big crowds on two different occasions (see Mark 6:30-44 and 8:1-10). “Hasn’t experience taught you anything?” Jesus seems to say. “Where is your trust that I care about you and will take care of you?” How much trust do we have in Jesus?”

Jesus also uses the disciples’ physical hunger to speak of a deeper spiritual hunger that can be satisfied by the Eucharist. 

The eucharistic celebration that gives us spiritual nourishment is more than the reception of communion. It is hearing the Word, gathering with fellow-Christians, renewing our common covenant with the Lord, identifying our lives with the death and Resurrection of Jesus and receiving from the one bread and cup – the entire ensemble of moments provides the strength we need for our spiritual journey.

Faithful celebration of the Eucharist works its own miracle in our lives. The miracle of conversion is the gradual turning from death to a life that is deathless.

Jakarta, 13 February 2018

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Posted by on February 13, 2018 in TODAY'S THOUGHT 2018


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