UPDATE First Sunday Lent 2012 Mass and Reflections

Scripture readings for Sunday's Mass are here 

 and various reflections from Creighton Centre for Liturgy can be found here.

My reflections on the temptations of Christ in the Desert from last year are here and here

 Extract from Gospel Mark : 1 :12-15

 The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.

Above Image from here 


He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

James Tissot Christ ministered to by angels

The Judaean Wilderness : a short video to show the terrain where Jesus would spend 40 days and nights.

Each of us has our own unique vantage point from where we are invited to stand at the start of this Lent and look into the meaning of this movement we take from the rivers of Jordan out into the desert wilderness with Jesus as our travelling companion.

In this edited extract from the book A Season for the Spirit, Martin Smith says :

 " Lent is the season for the Spirit of Truth, who drove Jesus into the wilderness to initiate Him into the Truth which sets free. St Mark's harsh word drove was softened by Matthew and Luke to the milder expression "led".

 But this word "drove" is very precious to me. I know that inertia, illusion and fear hold me back from answering God's invitation to enter into His truth and gain freedom. 
Yet even Jesus, free as He was from inertia like mine, needed the full force of the wind of God, (Spirit , Breath, and Wind are all equally valid translations of pneuma), to make Him enter the testing ground of the wilderness.

If I am going to go forward into that truth from which, God knows I am ready at this point in my life, I am going to need the Holy Spirit to drive me.......

The desert is a place of forces which cannot be resisted; flash floods and winds from which there is little escape. The forty days for Jesus began with this handing over of Himself to the Holy Spirit. 

" The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit." 
Perhaps this word surrender should be enough for my prayer this week.

Not the surrender of submission to an enemy, but the opposite, the laying down of resistance to the One who loves me infinitely more than I can guess, the One who is more on my side than I am myself.

Dwelling on this thought of letting go, and handing myself over to the Holy Spirit will bring me much closer to the experience of Jesus than the word discipline which so many of us have been trained to evoke at the beginning of Lent.

It should help us smile at our anxious attempts to bring our life under control, the belt tightening resolutions about giving up this or taking on that.

What we are called to give up in Lent is control itself. Deliberate efforts to impose discipline on our lives can often serve only to lead us further away from the freedom which Jesus attained through surrender to the Holy Spirit.

Lent is about the freedom which is gained only through exposure to the Truth.

And "What is truth?" Pilate's question is partially answered by unpacking the Greek word aletheia which is translated as truth. 
The word literally means "unhiddenness".

Truth is not always a thing, it is also an event. Truth happens to us when the coverings of illusion are stripped away and what is real emerges into the open.

The Truth we are promised if we can live the demands of this season consists not in new furniture for the mind but in exposure to the reality of God's presence in ourselves and the world. 

 Image from here

The Spirit promises to bring us to Truth by stripping away some more of the insulation and barriers which separate us from living contact with reality, the reality of God's world and our true selves."

40 illustrations drawn one Lent by illustrator Si Smith put into a movie follow Jesus' journey into the wilderness.


Thomas Merton's well known prayer is a great one at any time but seems particularly right for the beginning of Lent

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone

 and this one from Martin L. Smith from his book, A Season for The Spirit.

Spirit of Truth, you know me intimately, you alone know what barriers to truth in me are ready to come down now so that I can enter more freely into the reality of God than ever before.

Give me perseverance in my prayer and reflection day by day this Lent so that when the time is ready these barriers may give way like the walls of Jericho.

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