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1st Sunday of Lent

The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert ... he was among the wild beasts (Mark 1).
















Christ in the Wilderness: The Scorpion

Stanley Spencer


From Living Liturgy (Liturgical Press):


"[The artist] depicts Jesus sitting on the desert sands with a wild beast. But the beast is not a roaring lion or a skulking tiger. In his cupped hands he hold a small but deadly scorpion. Jesus is no wraith-like ascetic, but very much a plump "flesh of our flesh" man. Spencer may be suggesting that the really dangerous beasts are the small ones that can slither insidiously into our lives; the persistent sins and small infidelities that, almost unnoticed, can inject a paralyzing venom into our discipleship."


Lent is the time for us to sit in all of our "plumpness" and look for, hold, and reflect on the small, dangerous beasts that have crept into our lives. Hold them, and don't be afraid of them, but acknowledge what they are: poison, that can slowly eat away at our relationships, the most important being our relationship with God. This relationship needs to be authentic and transparent, whole and holy. From this one, comes the energy that vibrates through all of our good and holy relationships.


The Church's "modern world" practice of Lent for all the faithful developed from the early Church's practice, or process, of preparing the catechumen for baptism. In the Rite of Christian Initiation (fully developed through and after Vatican II), the 40 days before the Easter Vigil (where baptism is celebrated) is final preparation - a retreat of sorts - for the catechumen, as he or she moves from catechesis into prayer and reflection. While the catechumen prepares for baptism, the faithful accompany them in our own 40 days of prayer and fasting, as we prepare to renew our baptismal promises.


We are invited to spend these 40 days of Lent as a retreat, reflecting on our "wild beasts" and how these beasts have "injected a paralyzing venom into our discipleship." Discipleship begins when we are baptized into the Body of Christ. Each year, at the Easter Vigil, we renew the promises we made (or were made for us) at our Baptism, to be brought again into the Body of Christ (discipleship) as a new creature. The 40 days of Lent help us to prepare for that Rite. Lent and Easter give us an opportunity to begin anew.