Mark 1:12-15
The Spirit Drove Jesus into the Desert by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beats, 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."

Lent is a 40-day period of preparation for the Church's celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  For the unbaptized and those not fully initiated into the Church, Lent is meant to be a 40-day retreat entered into as a final preparation for the sacraments of initiation.  For the rest of the Christian world, it is a time of conversion and renewal as we prepare to celebrate Easter with mind and heart renewed.

Christ's own 40 days in the desert inspired the season of Lent.  What can we learn from Christ for our journey in 2006?

The Evangelist Mark states rather simply, "The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert. . ."  This journey preceded Jesus' three years of public ministry.  It was clearly a time of preparation for his work establishing the kingdom of God on earth.  We should be able to relate to this.  As human beings, we need special times of preparation for the important events of our lives.  May the Lord bless each and every one of us with the desire to make this Lent a time of honest and dedicated preparation for our celebration of the central event of world history, the Paschal Mystery.

Aside from occasional visits with angels and wild beasts, Jesus spent the 40 days alone with his Heavenly Father.  It must have been a time of intense prayer and deep communion.  It was indeed a retreat in preparation for the start of his public ministry.  This context should shape our approach to Lent.  This holy season calls us to increased prayer.  May Christ inspire us by his example and strengthen us with his grace to enter into a fuller communion with our Heavenly Father through a focused commitment to prayer.

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