Lent carries in its bosom a seductive danger: excessive inwardness. The seduction is this: a season of prayer, repentance and preparation for Good Friday and Easter necessarily involves trips to the heart, but tarry there too long and repentance can stall out as melancholy. The danger is this: self-examination may spawn attempts at self-improvement, with the result that looking at self replaces looking to God, and small measures of merit replace the immeasurable grace of God.
It is difficult to listen to a text when there are other texts in the room talking about the same subject matter, often in ways more elaborate and more familiar. Mark is the text before us, but Matthew, Luke and John are also in the room. Each has a right to be heard.
Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten journey to Jerusalem. It is best not to journey alone.
This is not a metaphorical desert. Left alone here at high noon, Jesus could die without water.
The Tempter will return again and again. But we are never left alone.
Portrayed as a cowardly dolt, Nicodemus is usually spotted skulking about under cover of darkness.