When we have a big decision to make, we often need to take some time out – to reflect and to pray. We need to be away from distractions, so that we can think clearly. In today’s Gospel, Jesus takes time out.
After his baptism in the River Jordan, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness. He was there for forty days; alone, without food or shelter and in danger from wild animals. Mark tells us that he was tempted by Satan, but says nothing about the temptations. Jesus was about to begin his public ministry of preaching and teaching. He could only face the struggle and suffering that lay ahead if he trusted completely in God, his Father. During those forty days in the desert, Jesus overcame the temptations and prepared himself.
The First Reading reminds us of the legend of Noah, in the book of Genesis. Noah, too, put his trust in God for the forty days of the Great Flood, and God kept him and his family safe, even when the whole world was destroyed.
When Jesus returned to Galilee, he would hear the news of the arrest of John the Baptist. He would be in no doubt about the dangers that he himself faced. But he set out fearlessly to begin preaching the Good News.
We are beginning the forty days of Lent. It’s a time to clear away distractions, to renew our trust in God and to respond to Jesus’ call: repent, and believe the Good News.