The time of fulfillment: driven

christ+in+the+wilderness12 At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, 13 and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

The account of the baptism moves immediately into Jesus’ test in the wilderness (eremos) as seen in the phrase “At once.” Jesus’ expulsion into the desert is the necessary consequence of his baptism; it is the same Spirit who descended upon Jesus at his baptism who now forces him to enter more deeply into the wilderness. In Mark, the Spirit is “casting out” or “throwing out” (ekballo) Jesus into the wilderness. (Matthew and Luke are a bit less graphic with the Spirit “leading” [anago & ago] Jesus.) In the wilderness Jesus is to be tested (peirazo) by Satan (Mk) or the Devil (Mt & Lk). Continue reading

Short Shrift

Shrove TuesdayShrove Tuesday is the day preceding Ash Wednesday. The day is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics, who are called to make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with – and then carry those reflections into the season of Lent.

The archaic verb shrive means to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of Confession and doing penance. Shrove Tuesday derives from that linguistic root. The idiom “short shrift” shares that same heritage. In its original form short shrift referred to a brief period of penance granted to a person condemned to death so he or she could be cured of immorality before execution. This original meaning has little relation to the modern sense of short shrift, which usually bears negative connotations – brief and unsympathetic treatment. One usually does not want to be given short shrift.

This Shrove Tuesday, may we priests not give “short shrift” to penitents seeking to draw closer to God. May all of God’s faithful not give “short shrift” to their reflections and on-going conversion in this Lenten season.  May we all find the time and place to “shrive” during Lent.