First Sunday of Lent Year B - 21/2/2021 - Gospel: Mk 1: 12-15
Challenging Times
Desert is a place, where hidden dangers are numerous, and good fortune is a scarcity. In the desert, human life is being challenged to its core, and those who survive the physical desert would be considered resilient in his/her spiritual journey. When facing wilderness of life, we often look for a way out. We would do whatever it takes for our own survival. In doing so we would weigh all options and variations, including surrendering. Pain, hardship, and fear factors weaken our spirit, and worst of all we tend to rely not on God's power, but solely on our own strength. Whenever we let go of God's power; our own strength will fail us. Failure caused by short sightedness. A small immediate gain blinds us from seeing enormous future loss. Jesus took His wilderness head- on, and persevered in doing His Father's will.

Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness. The number 'forty' tells us that every wilderness has starting and ending times. Our for personal spiritual wilderness also has a starting and an ending times. We need to learn from Jesus. Spiritual wilderness is not a time for finding the way out, but it is the best time focusing on our vocation. Before Jesus' public ministry, God's Spirit led Him to enter the desert, to face His own physical, and spiritual strengths and weaknesses. Desert's hostile environments are unfriendly for life. The fluctuation of climate between day and night, and lack of food, and rare water supplies all contribute to health hazards. Physical tiredness makes it harder for staying awake in prayer. Being fully alert from dust to dawn is a 'must' for survival.

Jesus endured them all. His wilderness experience was vital for His spiritual battles in fighting the power of darkness. Jesus entered the wilderness for a single purpose, and that was contemplation of His own mission; fulfilling His Father's will, to save the human race from the power of darkness. Jesus' wilderness experience was real. His hunger, thirst, suffering, and temptations were all truly authentic. From His teaching, we know, Jesus spent much of His time in the wilderness to contemplate His Father's will. He worked out strategies to fight against temptations, to combat Satan and to proclaim God's kingdom. 

Jesus had announced in advance, that Satan could not win, but the fight was brutal and deadly. The announcement asserted God's kingdom would prevail, and Satan's kingdom would be destroyed, and those who had faith in Jesus would join Him in His kingdom. In following Jesus, we experience both winning and failing in our own temptations. The man, Jesus, never failed. He stood firm against any form of temptation, including the extreme ones,  suffering on the cross. Jesus stood firm till the end, till His last breath

'Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit' Lk.23,46.

For us, spiritual desert kills life; it destroys future. Jesus entered the desert to show us the way, to draw life, to multiply joy, and to brighten His disciples' future. Jesus' arrival, and preaching marked the beginning of God's kingdom.

'The time has come' he said 'and the kingdom of God is close at hand'. Mk.1,14.

God's kingdom is close for those who welcome Jesus into their hearts. Searching for God's kingdom independently of Jesus is regarded as a temptation. Searching for God's kingdom is part of Christians living. To win over any big or small temptation, we need to fight it with God's help, not to fight it alone.