Are Your Soul and Body at War? - Bishop Barron

Are Your Soul and Body at War? - Bishop Barron's Sunday Sermon
Posted on 02/18/2024
Bishop Barron

Friends, we come now to the holy season of Lent. The Gospel for this First Sunday of Lent is Mark’s laconic version of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. Mark does not give us the details we find in Matthew and Luke, but we do hear this mysterious observation: “He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” We are given here a kind of icon of the union of the spiritual and the material, the soul and the body, in the human being—both the glory and the agony of human life. And a really good way to pray through Lent is reflecting on our own struggles in light of that icon.

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First Sunday of Lent

Mark 1:12–15

Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus goes into Galilee and begins to preach. The first words out of his mouth, as Mark reports them, serve as a sort of summary statement of his life and work: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The moment has arrived, the privileged time, the kairos; something that human beings have been longing for and striving after and hoping to see has appeared, and the time is now for a decision, for action. Jesus’ very first words are a wake-up call, a warning bell in the night, a summons to attention. This is not the time to be asleep, not the time to be languishing in complacency and self-satisfaction, not the time for delaying tactics, for procrastination and second guessing.

In the Byzantine liturgy, we find the oft-repeated call to “be attentive,” and in the Buddhist tradition, there is a great emphasis placed on wakefulness. In the fiction of James Joyce, we often find that moments of spiritual insight are preceded by a great thunderclap, the cosmic alarm shocking the characters (and the reader) into wide-awakeness. The initial words of Jesus’ first sermon are a similar invitation to psychological and spiritual awareness: there is something to be seen, so open your eyes!