Week 1

Jesus’ wilderness experience


Lent is meant to be a “wilderness” experience; forty-days out of your comfort zone. When I was a child, Lent was like an adventure. I remember giving up having sugar in my cup of tea … and never went back to it.

Today, Lent offers me the opportunity to establish a new regime of practice, a new set of practices involving prayer, fasting and alms-giving. Preparing these Gospel Enquiries is a part of that practice, although, I must confess, I have been writing them religiously each week for the past eight months. It is my hope and prayer that I will recognise in a way I haven’t before the presence of the Spirit, sent by Jesus, in the world in which I live and love and hence grow in faith and hope and love.

Integrating faith and life

The Gospel Enquiry is a tool to be used to assist in the integration of faith and life. Based on the Review of Life method, which Cardinal Joseph Cardijn (1882-1967) taught to young workers around the world, the Gospel Enquiry is really about faith in action. The three steps – See, Judge, Act – are presented in the form of questions intended to assist the reflection. May you be prompted to ask yourself (and others) better questions.

In his book, Grace: On the journey to God, Michael Casey OSCO, describes the regime of the Spirit as being “materially scarcely different from that expected of us from the outside.” He points out that its energies are derived from within. May this Lenten journey be an interior one with God’s Spirit as our guide and nourisher, and may it lead to change in the world around us because we ourselves are changed because we have journeyed with Jesus.

Pat Branson

The Gospel

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’ (Mark 1:12-15)

The Enquiry


The Bible presents the wilderness as that place where Israel meets God. It is also the place where Israel is tempted to worship false gods. Take some time to identify your “wilderness”. Where is it? How often do you go there? Which is more likely to happen there for you: you worship God? Or you worship false gods? How is your life impacted by your wilderness experiences?

Why does Jesus go into the wilderness? If “wild beasts” is a metaphor, what does he face in the wilderness? Who accompanies him in the wilderness?

What is the relationship between Jesus being driven into the wilderness by the Spirit and his proclamation of the coming of God’s kingdom?


What do you make of the Gospel account of the beginning of Jesus’ mission? What insight into the mission of his followers have you gained from reflecting on this Gospel? What is “good news” about what happens?
What does your faith tell you about Lent and why it is a season in the Church’s year? How has your faith been challenged by reflecting on this Gospel reading?
How will Lent this year be different from previous years because of what you have been thinking about because of this Gospel?


What needs to change in your life and in the lives of others around you so that the coming of Jesus as depicted in this Gospel changes the world as you experience it?
What small action can you take that will contribute to bringing about this change? When and where will you carry out the action and how often?
Who can you involve in your action and how and when will you get them to participate in your action?
Image source

Fr Lawrence OP / Flickr / Victoria and Albert Museum / Stained glass from Troyes Cathedral / CC BY NC ND 2.0

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