Preached by Oliver Yangi, Formation Student on placement at Holy Cross on the First Sunday of Lent, 2015
Today's Gospel reading from Mark tells us about the Baptism of our Lord, how he was taken into the wilderness and tempted, the selection of his first disciples and the performance of his first miracle
The Baptism of Jesus Christ
Jesus was baptised when he was thirty years of age. This was the age at which the Levites entered upon their work; the age, too, at which it was lawful for scribes to teach. Generally speaking, thirty among the Jews was looked upon as the time of life when manhood had reached its full development. This was the beginning of his ministry.
We believe that Jesus did not need baptism because He was without sin, but the story in Matthew explains that he was baptised because it was the Father's will for him at that time.
Learnt to be led by the spirit
In this story we read that "Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove” which in the bible is a sign of peace and Joy. And the work of this Spirit in his life is very important.
What an exciting moment when we were getting baptism no matter whether you are baptised as a baby or adult. Baptism is one of the great five celebrations in our Christian life. All baptised Christians, through their baptismal vows and the gift of the Holy Spirit, are called to participate in the community's ministry. Led by the Spirit, as Jesus was, we will see Christ open doors and windows that lead us beyond still waters into new territories and vision.
Do you want to see changes in your life? And do you want to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel? Examine Jesus’ humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in your heart. As you do, heaven will open for you as well. The Lord is ever ready to renew us in his Spirit and to anoint us for mission. We are called to be “light” and “salt” to those around us. The Lord wants his love and truth to shine through us so that others may see the goodness and truth of God’s message of salvation. Ask the Lord to fill you with his Holy Spirit so that you may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around you.
Learn to do battle
Do you ever feel compelled or driven to do something for God? Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to spend forty days and nights in prayer and fasting in a lonely place. Why was he compelled to seek solitude for such a lengthy period? Was it simply a test to prepare him for his ministry? Or did Satan want to lure him into a trap? The scriptural word here means test in the sense of proving and purifying someone to see if there are ready for the task at hand. We test pilots to see that they are fit to fly. Likewise God tests his servants to see if they are fit to be used by him. God tested Abraham to prove his faith.
Jesus was no exception to this testing. Jesus was tempted like us and he overcame not by his own human strength but by the grace and strength which his Father gave to him. He had to renounce his will for the will of his Father.
He succeeded because he wanted to please his Father and he trusted that his Father would give him the strength to overcome the obstacles that stood in the way. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit to be our strength and guide in temptation and testing. God the Father is ready to give us all that we need to live in his way of love and righteousness. Do you rely on the Lord for your strength and help?
Learn to call others
When Jesus preached the Gospel message he called others to follow as his disciples and he gave them a mission – "to catch people for the kingdom of God". What kind of disciples did he choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles we see a characteristic feature of Jesus' work:
He chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position. They were common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power. When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think that we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Do you believe that God wants to work through and in you for his glory?
Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will "catch people" for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the Gospel. We are to be the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
Do you witness to those around you the joy of the Gospel and do you pray for your neighbours, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of his love? Discipleship is about inviting people and work together as team for the Kingdom of God.
Learnt to confront Evil
Traditionally Lent is a time where we bend our will towards living a more Christ-like life: through fasting, study, and acts of charity. That means giving up things that diminish our life, taking up things that spiritually enrich our life, and giving away, in order to defy our tendency towards selfish living.
May his Spirit and light shine in us.