1st Sun Lent B
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
Mark’s account of Jesus’ time in the wilderness comes immediately after his Baptism. The two are linked. The Spirit who descended upon Jesus is the one who drives him into the wilderness. There is no mention of temptation in Mark’s account; rather Jesus is there to be tested by Satan. The word “Satan” comes from the Hebrew originally meaning ‘obstacle’ and, by the time the New Testament was written, it meant ‘adversary’. So what could Jesus’ testing have entailed if not a struggle to determine how to proclaim the ‘good news’? Being tested meant experiencing the ‘obstacles’, the ways in which Satan could delude people.
There are significant instances of testing in the Old Testament: Abraham and Isaac, Job, but the greatest was the Exodus experience. The mention of 40 days not only reminds the reader of this time but also of Moses’ and Elijah’s 40 days of prayer and fasting in preparation for the revelation of God. Only here, the revelation has been given at the baptism. This is now the time of preparation for preaching.
The ‘beasts’ can stand as cohorts of Satan, whose role was to terrify Jesus, or they stand as a symbol of the harmony with nature that Jesus’ salvation will ultimately bring. The text could be understood either way.
Once the ministry of John is finished with his arrest, Jesus begins his, proclaiming the Good News of God. The first thing needed to hear this Good News is to recognise that change is needed. This is not just a change of a person’s way but rather entails both mind and heart.