February 21, 2021

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21 February
First Sunday of Lent

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.

Mark 1,12-13

Do you imagine Jesus spending forty days sitting on a rock? The description of Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy spending 40 days and 40 nights prostrate on the holy mountain (Deut 9,18) influenced how I used to imagine the forty days in the desert.

Was Jesus going somewhere?

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke mention Our Lord’s forty days in the desert and then his withdrawing to Galilee. There is no reference to time but the narrative suggests a sequence. His forty days in the desert happened “immediately” after the Baptism. After his forty days in the desert, he was in Nazareth. Might have his journeying from the place of His baptism to Nazareth incorporated the forty days? The Gospel of St. John does not permit that reading since Our Lord, some time after the baptism, was in Bethany beyond the Jordan before the Wedding Feast in Cana. Remember that the Gospel of St. John does not describe the Baptism of the Lord but rather what St. John the Baptist said some time later.

So Our Lord was baptized in the Jordan, went into the Judean wilderness, came back to Bethany beyond the Jordan, traveled to Nazareth and then Cana and then Capernaum… and in short order he was on his way to Jerusalem. The Old Testament describes journeys of forty days: Noah and his family floated in the ark during forty days of rain (Genesis 7,12), Moses sent spies to reconnoiter the land of Canaan for forty days (Numbers 13,25), fleeing for his life Elijah walked for forty days to the mountain Horeb (1Kings 19,3-8), and the Prophet Jonah journeyed through Nineveh for forty days proclaiming a fast (Jonah 3,4-10).

I imagine Jesus walking through the wilderness peacefully and purposefully.

This Lent I propose either getting off the couch or slowing down the power walk. Spend an hour a day in a rosary walk. That will be more than five mysteries. Perhaps you will need to cut some things out of the day in order to make that happen. Perhaps you could make the Stations of the Cross when you get to Fourth Sorrowful Mystery.

Perhaps we will get somewhere.

God bless you.

Rev. Christopher J. Pollard