Lenten Reflections: Wild Beasts and Angels

oryxYour parish cleric will proclaim one of the shorter Gospel readings in the Sunday Lectionary this weekend, just four verses of Mark 1, 12-15. At Mass last night I was struck by the companions of Jesus in the desert, according to that account:

He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. (1:13b)

In the time of Jesus there were dangerous predators in the deserts of Palestine. And the various other animals were not well-regarded either: unclean or such. The Lord seemed not to mind the contamination of life. Remember that very early in his public ministry Jesus actually touched a leper, and thus was rendered unclean himself. As a result, he was banished from open conduct in villages and towns.

Mark the evangelist does not shy away from presenting Jesus right away as a person who conducts himself rather differently than other teachers. What does this teach us?

That Lent is perhaps not such a respectable thing if we are concerned with the imitation of Christ. We are unafraid of wild things. Even sinners and heretics and the unclean. Will angels come to minister to us, too? I suppose that is up to God. As for the wild beasts, perhaps one fast we might consider this season is to refrain from too much respectability, especially where organized religion might judge it. Definitely the Temple Police.

Image credit.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Lenten Reflections: Wild Beasts and Angels

  1. Liam says:

    There are a couple of ways to take St Mark’s reference to wild beasts.

    One is that they represent danger and evil, and are thus part of the grand order of battle against evil the definitive victory over which is the Evangelium of the Lord Jesus Christ – the revolutionary opening theme of the Gospel of St. Mark, who takes the literary form for the PR campaign of “good news” of a worldly general’s smashing victory and transforms it into something else entirely.

    Or not. That is, the wild beasts may represent the original goodness of the natural corporeal order (as with the non-corporeal angelic order) that a reminder of what Jesus’ battle came to restore and glorify. After all, absent demonic possession, wild beasts in the Bible are quite unlike Adam and Eve and their descendants – they are naturally obedient to the direction of God if and when given.

    I like that the reference can be read both ways. YMMV.

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