Summary: When we experience wilderness in life, it is difficult to uphold our moral standards. Rooted in God and with the power Jesus gives us, we can try to overcome the attractions and promises of evil.
Mark 1.12-15 describes the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness. After the baptism in the Jordan, the Spirit leads him to the wilderness to spend fourty days of fasting and prayer. There he is tempted to give up the call of God and yield to the temptation to react to situations in the normal human ways. This temptation is to test his messianic vocation, before he begins the ministry of God. The power of evil is the opponent of Christ. Before Jesus assumes the messianic office, his commitment to God’s mission is tested.
The Spirit of God comes upon him at his baptism and it is revealed that he is the Son of God. The same Spirit leads him to the wilderness of temptations. The Spirit throws him out of the Presence of God into the influence of God’s opponent. At his baptism, God spoke. In the wilderness, the devil speaks. In the Jordan, the Spirit of God came on him. In the wilderness, the spirit of evil wants to come on him. The Son of God was tempted by the promises of evil in the absence of God’s power and in the isolation of the wilderness.
The first man, Adam, could not withstand the temptations of the devil. Christ, the new man, overcomes the temptations and promises of the devil. A new time, a new age, the hope of a new life begins with Jesus, because as he conquered the power of evil, he proved the human possibility to repeat the same conquest in our lives. It proves that it is possible to withstand and overcome the attractions and promises of evil that is present in the world.
Sometimes our daily life can slide into a wilderness.When we do not succeed to get along with one another, when we are frustrated with the defeats in our our daily tasks, when our partners place unreasonable emotional demands upon us, when our sicknesses and handicaps make us helpless and when we experience fear, insecurity and confusion in the face of an insecure future, in all these situations, we are thrown into situations of wilderness in our life. They are all stages where the Wilderness of life is well played out.
Once a friend of mine heard that a particular hindu family did not have anything to eat for a few days. He brought some rice and vegetables to this family. Even before he could leave the house, he saw the mother of the family dividing the provisions into two and taking the one half to her muslim neighbour. My friend asked her: “How much is then left for you all? You are already too many for the little I had brought.” The mother said, “They too don’t have anything to eat!”
The poverty of the family is already an experience of the wildnerness. Inspite of her own lack, she shared the little she got with her neighbour. Such kind of a behaviour is rare to find in an extremely difficult situation. It is a condition where people are likely to be frustrated and desperate. Then people are likely to be very egoistic and forgetful of the others’ needs. When we experience wilderness in life, it is difficult to uphold our moral standards. Wilderness is a condition where we do not find good and positive solutions to our problems. Then it is possible to forget our esteemed customs, values and beliefs and slip into immoral and wrong solutions which stand ready at hand.
Our ways can integrate the ways of Jesus, the way of God to man. Just as Jesus remained true to his vocation, just as the mother of our story remained true to her moral obligations, rooted in God and with the power Jesus gives us, we can also try to overcome the attractions and promises of evil, which can damage our life, and follow the path of Jesus to the life that God offers us in this lenten season. That could be the best way to start the season of Lent.