In Sunday’s Gospel, (Mark 1:12-15) Mark writes, “…the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts;” It is hard for us to imagine living in solitude for 40 days. While there may be times that we appreciate the peace and quiet, it is not a common event for us to participate in, especially of our own choosing. And being surrounded by wild beasts for most of us is less than desirable! Yet, metaphorically, we are surrounded by wild beasts each and every day. All one needs to do is pick up any newspaper and “good news” is not in the majority.
It is rather easy for us to become jaded with the “wild beasts” in our secular world. The conflicts we witness in far away lands, the poverty, the crime and the hatred can pitch us toward hopelessness and despair. And often, because they are beyond our normal existence, we have a tendency to become slightly numb and experience a sense of helplessness. We begin to believe that since many of these atrocities happen “over there” we really don’t have an ability to make a difference.
The ability to impact those global issues individually may be debatable, but the fact is we have wild beast always lurking in our own lives. These wild beasts may be lack of love or compassion, perhaps it is gossip or excessive pride or it may simply be a refusal to truly reflect on who we are and what we do. It is always safer to look at other’s transgressions before we accept our own. Wild beasts!!!
So we enter this season of Lent in the hope we can face our demons and tame the wild beasts in our own lives. While there is no magic recipe, we have a formula that can assist us in our journey. Embracing the three pillars of Lent will provide us some strength and structure.
The journey will be challenging and different for each of us; Barriers for one may be opportunities for another. Regardless, it is a journey we all must travel if we believe we are Easter people. And as a Catholic/Christian community, we are Easter people, we believe in the Resurrection and we seek eternal life with Jesus.
May God bless you as you journey this Lenten season!