Readings: Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-25
To my mind, a detail characterizing Saint Mark’s account of the temptation of Jesus is the lack of hunger. Jesus is full, specifically, full of the Holy Spirit who had just descended upon him at his Baptism and now drives him into the desert to confront Satan. He is not hungry because the angels minister to him. He has left the human realm of civilization and social organization and harmonizes with creation, even angelic creation.
We are told he is with the wild beasts. I don’t think you have to track wild beasts, as those of you who raise or work with animals would know, to realize that this is a very special realm, a very different way of being than our suburban norms!
Listen to these words of a near-contemporary poet, written as a blessing To Learn from Animal Being*:
Stranded between time/ Gone and time emerging,/ We manage seldom/ To be where we are:/ Whereas they are always/ Looking out from/ The here and now.
May we learn to return/ And rest in the beauty/ Of animal being,/ Learn to lean low,/ Leave our locked minds,/ And with freed senses/ Feel the earth/ Breathing with us.
May we enter/ Into lightness of spirit,/ And slip frequently into/ The feel of the wild.
Let the clear silence/ Of our animal being/ Cleanse our hearts/ Of corrosive words.
This is the primal state of humanity before the fall; this is the realm of the Son of God, as Jesus was named when he rose from the waters of the Jordan. This is a redeemer who comes to reveal all creation as a sacrament of communion with God and repair our damage to creation.
Isn’t that what our Lent could be about?
*John O’Donahue, A Book of Blessings