Coming To Grips With Our Own Lives

Sunday of Week 1 in Lent - Year B

Mk. 1:12-15

Jesus at the outset of His public ministry spent 40 days in the wilderness struggling with the big questions of who He was, why He was here and what He would do with His life. Had we been there we would not have seen the Devil but a young man, alone with His thoughts, wrestling with Himself and the real issues He faced.

How should He use His power? What could He do and say that would win this world back to God? Should He give them bread? Could He try sensation and excitement? Should He strike some kind of compromise with the established powers? It was there He made some choices and commitments that would guide and sustain Him in the dark and difficult days ahead.

Only then did He launch His ministry of saving others. His message was simple, direct and personal. "The reign of God is at hand. Reform your lives and believe the good news." In essence, He was calling the people to do what He, Himself, had done - to come to grips with their own lives.

On this first Sunday of Lent, we would do well to recognize this as the first responsibility of every person. All of us have obligations that extend far beyond the limits of our individual lives. And who among us does not feel some obligation for making the world a better place? But despite these many and varying demands we must not forget that my first responsibility is me - and your first responsibility is you – if we are to know, love and serve God in this world.

Jesus came to serve and save a humanity that had become lost in the darkness of sin and selfishness. On more than one occasion He announced that as His mission in life. But before He could take on that larger task, He first had to deal with Himself. If His personal life had been a shambles, the world would have little noted nor long remembered anything that He said or did. So it is with you and me. What right have we to recommend our Catholic religion to others unless it produces some consequences within our own lives that make it worthy of recommendation?

My first responsibility as a priest is to allow God to work in my life so that I become, by His grace, a whole person whose daily living lends some credence to the Gospel that I proclaim. Your first responsibility as a mother is to become the kind of woman whose personal life gives some evidence of the indwelling presence of the living Christ. Your first responsibility as a father is to become a real man whose very life requires respect and inspires emulation.

The doing of this will call for a great deal of personal resolve, but this alone will not be enough. Even Jesus could not do that. Our reading tells us that "angels waited on Him" which means that in His struggle with Satan, He was aware of divine backing.

Lord Jesus, God is always with us, just as surely as He was with You in the wilderness. Help us to cultivate an awareness of His presence and learn to depend upon Him. Only then will we find the strength to come to grips with our own lives.