Date: Sunday, February 21, 2021
Our Pastoral Council went on a ZOOM Retreat with Alice Camille, the author of Exploring Sunday Readings. It is a great monthly guide to understanding Sunday Sacred Scripture that is available at entrances to church. Her talk was entitled: “Follow the Leader.” She explained the Bible is all about “power.” How God uses power to create, rescue, heal, and restore humanity and creation. And yes, God uses power to destroy evil. The Bible tells us of God’s display of power and our human misuse of power for our own advantage. It is a sad tale of misuse. Alice points out eight models of power in the Old Testament exhibited in Patriarchs, in Moses, in Joshua - a military commander, in Judges, in Kings, in Prophets, in Priests and in Sages. In the New Testament, during Roman occupation, different groups struggle for power – Sadducees, Pharisees, Scribes, Zealots and High Priests. Near the end of Alice Camille’s talk, she shows how Jesus consistently uses God-like power and at the very end “lays down his divine power and dies on the cross.”
Our retreat reflection on power is key to understanding our Gospel according to Mark on this first Sunday of Lent. After his baptism, the Spirit drives Jesus into the desert, and he remains in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan.” “God’s beloved Son” is driven into the desert by the Spirit to be tested by Satan. It is a power struggle between good and evil, light and darkness. Satan attempts to entice Jesus to use his power for his own advantage. You got it. Use it! But Jesus is not deceived. He comes to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus will back up these words with the visible manifestations of power through numerous cures and calling of disciples. Later, when Jesus explains to his disciples that he must suffer and die, Simon Peter objects. Jesus turns on him and calls Simon – Satan. The temptations of Jesus are about the use of power.
Lent is a special time or season when we are asked to “Follow the Leader.” In the comic trip Family Circus, Billy says to his older sister and younger brother (with Mom listening): “If I changed my name to Simon, everybody would have to do whatever I say.” “Simon says do this” and “Follow the Leader” are children’s games that come into play during Lent when we ask ourselves whom are we listening to and whom are we following? How am I using my power over others? Our leader is Jesus. He shows us how to use power as God intends to create, to rescue, to heal, to restore humanity/creation and in the face of evil to choose life and to do good.