Gospel Reflection Feb 18 – Kim VanHuffel

Sunday, February 18

First Sunday of Lent

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.”

Gospel Reflection:

The first thing I noticed about this scripture passage was that it is the Holy Spirit that drives Jesus into the desert immediately after his Baptism. Why would the Spirit do this? And why did Jesus go? Shouldn’t he have headed back to town for cake?

First, this passage shows the influence the Spirit had on Jesus’ life, and the influence he can have on ours too, if we allow it. The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert because he requires deep spiritual preparation for the ministry he is about to undertake. The Spirit does not spare him this journey through the desert, because the desert makes him stronger. It is in the desert that he denies Satan and keeps his face turned toward God.

The world is full of evil, just as Jesus encountered in the desert. That is why during Lent, we go into the desert with him. The Holy Spirit knows that we have to deal with evil in our lives and in the world. This takes spiritual training. God wanted Adam and Eve to simply BE with him, he still wants that of us. But, Satan (disguised as pleasure, honor, pride, or power) continually tries to lure us away (with distractions, excuses and rationalizations). Satan can even be found in the many things we plan to do this Lent, maybe too many things. If we attempt to do too many things during Lent, Satan will just use that as a way to keep us from our real purpose — to spend time with and turn back to God. So we should pray to the Holy Spirit, and listen to find out what kind of sacrifice God really wants from us this Lent.

Please join with me in keeping our RCIA participants in your prayers during these 40 days. They are experiencing the conversion, for possibly the first time, that we strive for each Lent. Conversion means turning ourselves back to God in whatever ways we have strayed, and turning away from evil. This Easter we will join with them and renew our baptismal promises after we come out of the desert, at Easter. If we listen closely, we too might hear the voice Jesus heard at his Baptism, “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.”

Kim VanHuffel

Pastoral Associate