First Sunday of Lent, Year B: Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15
At the Jordan Jesus divested himself of everything to enter the river. He assumed a kinship with sinful humanity but rose from the waters to God’s voice calling him his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased.
That is a state of being that cannot be constructed and fine-tuned like my persona; it cannot be chosen like an occupation, nor is it an identity. It is a given. I can so easily alienate such a given by my schemes to become “somebody” in other people’s eyes. But Jesus doesn’t take that route.
The Spirit of God spills out to drive Jesus into the desert where he is tested by Satan. “Satan” means “the Accuser,” the Prosecutor of the divine court, whose testing will prove who Jesus is. Temptation is no more than that: how I respond proves of what I’m made.
Jesus is among the wild beasts. He has not stumbled unconsciously to an instinctual level, driven by blind drives, but, Spirit-lead, has consciously engaged this instinctive state. Do the animals show him how to protect himself from the elements, to pace and sustain himself in the desert, recognize their boundaries, become part of the landscape rather than a gawking tourist or intrusive developer? Forming this rapport, Jesus is not enslaved by instinct but integrates its potential; nature paves the way for angelic ministrations.
By our baptism, we are incorporated into Christ; couldn’t this also be our story? Why can’t we forsake alienation and receive the Spirit who makes us God’s beloved children?