Lukisan: Alex de Andreis,Pleasant Anticipations
I Peter 3: 18-22
Mark 1: 12-15
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel”
Desert is a dangerous place. There, all creatures compete with each other just to survive. Humans, animals, and plants have to face all the moments that happened suddenly and unexpectedly. At day the weather is so hot and at night so cold. The storm of sand emerges unpredictably which could cause damage to all. The food and water are hard to find. Sometimes these desert cheats as if there were water meanwhile in fact it does not exist. It is only found in a sea of sand and for this reason, the compass that guides the way in the desert only the sun in the day and stars at the night without which one could be lost. The culture and indeed the gospel say that an unclean spirit lives there; the desert is the house of Satan. But, even though it is a dangerous place, it is the place where the moment of faith comes from. The Jewish got the manna when they were in peregrination in the desert. Monks and hermits passed the temptations into holiness. Many holy persons came from the desert: John the baptizer, St. Anthony, St. Macarius, etc. Jesus himself defeated the temptations there. So, it is the toughest place which keeps its mystery and its holiness also its beauty.
Today the gospel speaks about temptation. According to Mark, the Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts. So what is temptation? The temptation is an opportunity, a chance that puts us to make a choice between good and evil; between the kingdom of God and Satan. Naturally, man is created for goodness and his inclination and his action are for good but the temptation tries to deject this goal. Life is full of temptation because every time we are faced with a choice between good and evil. For example in the business world, you have a lot of loans then there is a time a cheat your customer by giving a broken thing. Or as a student, you are tempted to cheat when you find difficulty in your examination. The mechanism of temptation is so subtle in the corridor full of pleasure and so convinced when there is no way out so that drives us to choose evil. Evil is so genius that makes us full of false images and he tempts us in every direction and also attacks us in the weakest of ourselves. But of course, all things the evil offered actually are vain, nothingness, and destructive results. By the way, our choices determine who we are: when choosing evil we are the follower of Satan, when we choose goodness, we are the follower of God. So in the temptation, we can know and ask ourselves that do we love God by our choices.
Life is like the desert and it is a scary place that is full of wild beasts. It is a scary place because we can lose ourselves on the journey of it. As the caliph who needs the star and sun to be their compass in the desert journey, so we need a compass in the desert of life. What is that? Jesus. Jesus is our compass in the desert of life. Why? He himself is there; indeed he defeated the temptations and for this reason, the angel ministered him. As long as we stick to Jesus, we know the way and the goal, and we understand what is good and evil; he empowers us so that we can overcome temptations. Jesus’s power and his authority are greatest because as said in the first letter of Peter through the resurrection, Jesus Christ has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. These words create and confirm our self-confidence to be a follower of Jesus.
The Jesus follower is legally started by baptism. Now, by it, Jesus becomes our conscience because he has lived in heart and his spirit is within the soul. By his resurrection, conscience is a covenant made between God and man in spirit and in the flesh which is beyond the covenant of Noah. It is an everlasting covenant that is written in every heart who believes him. In love, God recalls this covenant through him. We need to keep this new covenant which is our compass in the journey of life. Jesus instructs us to do good, he guides us to do justice, and he teaches us his way through clear conscience.
A clear conscience is gotten by repenting and by believing in the gospel. Without them, it will be dark because repentance is the door to entering the kingdom of God and the gospel is the living light that illuminates the conscience. So, if one has clear conscience based on Jesus Christ then it is like a bow appearing in a cloud of heart and not in the cloud of the sky as said in the covenant of God and Noah. The bow appearing in the cloud of the heart refers to that Jesus is always with us and accompanies us during the journey of life. To choose and to follow the clear conscience that is Jesus Christ himself, one is saved from the flood of temptations. Having saved from temptations of course justice, goodness, purity, love, and humility grow prosperously in the land of life and become delightful fruit in life. Now with a clear conscience, life is not a desert anymore but a garden that is planted with flowers of justice, roses of goodness, an orchard of purity, jasmine of patience, a sunflower of love and etc. It is not a scary place anymore but becomes a beautiful life under the sun of Jesus.
Jesus says: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand”. This happens when Satan is defeated and broken down by our choices and our actions for the kingdom of God. And definitively the ways to the kingdom of God are love and truth.
We are weak persons who are easily falling down to temptations, so we need to pray and deepen our spiritual life in order that our conscience is always clear and bright. We appeal to Jesus that he always be our compass in the journey of life as the psalms said:
Your ways, o Lord, make known to me;
Teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my savior.
Remember that your compassion, o Lord,
And your loves are from of old.
In your kindness remember me, because of your goodness.
By this prayer and the hope as said in Psalm, now we can sing a meaningful and beautiful French hymn:
In the desert, I seek your face
In the desert, your bread nourishes me
I am not fear to advance on your trace
That your living water satisfies my thirst
I promise to you in justice
I promise to you in love
In fidelity as I have known, I would know!
In the desert, I understand your word
In the desert, far away from the rumor
The memory of your law consoles me
Oh, hidden God, you want to speak to my heart
In the desert, I breathe your breath
In the desert, dwells the spirit
It is the force in the morning that pushes me
It is the fire that precedes me in the night
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