05 December 2013, The Tablet

Advent meditation: temptations in the desert

by Richard Leonard SJ

In his second reflection, Richard Leonard SJ considers the Christian ascetic tradition, and the pitfalls that can lie in wait for those who place penance before mercy and compassion There is one school of New Testament scholarship that argues that Jesus did not just go to the desert and pay John the Baptist a visit, but that he could have been his disciple for a period of time, and later made a break from him. In the gospels, John the Baptist emerges as a fierce character, opting out of towns and villages and heading to the desert to preach a harsh repentance, fasting and penance. It was an austere lifestyle.No matter if Jesus was John’s disciple or if he went to the Jordan for a day visit, Jesus did not follow John’s lead. He returns to the desert on a needs-only basis. Prim
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