Psalm 25 1-18
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
I trust you, let me not be disappointed;
do not let my enemies triumph.
Those who hope in you shall not be disappointed,
but only those who wantonly break faith.
Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God, my saviour.
In you, I hope all day long
because of your goodness, O Lord.
Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth.
In your love remember me.
The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble on the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.
His ways are faithfulness and love
for those who keep his covenant and law.
Lord, for the sake of your name,
forgive my guilt, for it is great.
If anyone fears the Lord
he will show him the path he should choose.
His soul shall live in happiness
and his children shall possess the land.
The Lord’s friendship is for those who revere him;
to them, he reveals his covenant.
My eyes are always on the Lord;
for he rescues my feet from the snare.
Turn to me and have mercy
for I am lonely and poor.
Relieve the anguish of my heart
and set me free from my distress.
See my affliction and my toil
and take all my sins away.
Gospel Mark 1.10-13
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
Baptism is our breastplate
Mark tells us that immediately after his baptism, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus to the wilderness for 40 days, where he faced Satan’s temptations.
It’s strange that right after descending “like a dove” on Jesus and announcing with a voice from heaven that Jesus is His beloved Son, that the Holy Spirit forced Him out to the wilderness to face such harsh trials.
We know His Father’s protection, sending angels to help him.
In his homily for the 1st Sunday of Lent, Archbishop Michael Mulhall makes a beautiful connection between our Lord’s baptism and the protection he received through the power of the Holy Spirit descending upon him.
In the same way as Jesus, we have been prepared and strengthened by our baptism, the bishop said, to go into those places we would rather not be. He quoted a saint who wrote that baptism is our “breastplate” in the battle against temptation.
He added that we hear from many sources that things going on in the world, this issue or that problem, is the most important battle. He then emphasized the truth:
What takes place in our hearts and in our lives, is the most important battle going on in the world today.”
That reminded me of St Ambrose: Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies.
Bishop Mulhall has also spoken in other Lenten homilies of our need to be strengthened in our pilgrimage through life because we are frail and can easily fall in the face of temptation.
Patiently and with great love for us, God draws us more and more toward himself. Lent is a time, he says, for us to draw closer to Him and allow Him to touch our hearts and show us how precious we are to him.
Here are the Gospel and Archbishop Mulhall’s homily: