For the complete 1st Sunday of Lent readings, click here.
What do you imagine when you hear someone is “driven?” Did you think about a wunderkind businesswoman or a navy seal? Maybe you imagine a spunky, undersized professional athlete that worked his or her way into the top tier of their sport. Maybe you thought about an inner-city high school teacher who puts in the extra hours to raise kids as well as grades. Just maybe you thought of someone you know personally and smiled out of pride.
Rarely do we think of Jesus as “driven.” Kind, loving, holy, good storyteller, even better beard – these are the things we think of when we think of Jesus. Yet, in our gospel today we hear that Jesus was driven into the desert by the Spirit. One could read this to say he went against his will, but the reality is that “the Spirit” is the Holy Spirit, the very spirit of God, who is one with Jesus Christ. It is Jesus’ Spirit that drives him into the desert. Jesus is driven.
Why does Jesus go into the desert? Why does the Spirit drive him there? One way to understand this moment in Mark’s gospel is that Jesus went into the desert to confront Satan directly. In the time of Jesus, the desert represented the wild, untamed, and even possessed land where evil spirits roamed freely. It was seen as the Devil’s domain. An early Christian could read this to say that Jesus was driven to go confront the devil to boldly challenge him. Jesus confronts evil at the very beginning of his ministry. Jesus doesn’t passively wait to save us; he confronts the Adversary, another name for Satan, and resists every temptation throw his way.
Jesus is driven to save the world.
Nothing we do can keep Jesus from coming after us to save us. No sin is too big, nowhere too remote – Jesus is coming for us.
What are you waiting for this Lent? Don’t wait to encounter God or renew your faith. Do something radical this week to drive your faith further. Some ideas may be to stop by the Adoration Chapel at HNOJ for an hour. Visit the poor and vulnerable through one of the many charitable organization. Boldly share your faith with a friend or coworker. Pray with your family. Sign up for a daily Lenten email (check out HNOJ’s Facebook page for some ideas).