Lent 1 – Psalm 25:1-10, Mark 1:9-15
In the Psalm appointed for this first Sunday in Lent the Psalmist persistently asks to know God’s ways and to be led on God’s paths. Convinced that all God’s paths are “steadfast love and faithfulness” for those who are willing to follow, the Psalmist seems eager to get moving in whichever way God leads. Without question, this is the right disposition to have at the beginning of our Lenten journey. The Psalmist wants to be led by God. For me, actually wanting to be led by God is always the great hurdle to overcome at the start of this season. Am I willing to subject my desires to God’s desires so that over time God’s desires become my own?
Although Mark tells us of Jesus’ temptation in the most limited way, we can be fairly confident that the temptations he faced represented opportunities to abandon God’s desires in favor of his own desires or even Satan’s desires. It is important to recall that the only way our own or Satan’s desires can tempt us to pursue them in place of God’s desires is if they appear to be good. Nobody is tempted by something ugly or unappealing. Rather, those things that seriously tempt us, those things that fascinate us and stimulate our desire are things that appear good and beautiful.
As the gospel readings for Lent unfold, we will be invited eagerly to pursue God’s path, to learn to love and desire what God loves and desires for us. As it usually does, this will require me to spend a great deal of time divesting myself of those desires I have adopted as my own that are ultimately directed towards things that only appear to be good or worthwhile. As this happens, I will simultaneously be invited to see that the truest path of “steadfast love and faithfulness” is going to lead to the cross. In the light of that invitation, I hope to take up my own cross, and to learn to conform my desires ever more closely to God’s.