FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT: Readings: Genesis 9:8-15. Responsorial: from Psalm 26, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Gospel: Mark 1:12-15
‘REMINDED TO BE MORE CHRIST-LIKE IN WORDS AND ACTIONS’ Lent is the time to prepare us for the celebration of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection. The Church moves on this course by calling for a true repentance; by reordering our priorities, and the changing and purifying our values, ideals, and ambitions through fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and self-control. The first reading tells us how humanity irrevocably broke the original covenant God had made with first human Parents and how the merciful God selected Noah and his family to renew the covenant. Noah’s rescue from the flood symbolizes how we are saved through the water of Baptism which cleanses us of sin and makes us one with Christ. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 25) is a deep penitential prayer, humbly acknowledging human insufficiency and our radical dependence upon God, His mercy and His forgiveness. The psalmist lists some of God’s own characteristics that will shape the life of the forgiven penitent: truth, compassion, love, kindness, goodness, uprightness, humility, and justice. St. Peter, in the second reading, shows us how Noah’s episode prefigured Baptism. As Noah and his family were saved from the waters of the destruction, so we are saved through the waters of Baptism. Baptism is an outward sign of the New Covenant that God has made with His people. It makes us adopted children of God, heirs of Heaven, and temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel, we are told that Jesus faced and defeated the tempter by his forty days of prayer and penance in the desert immediately following his baptism. It also tells us how Jesus started preaching his public ministry: “The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Believe in the Gospel.” TAKEAWAY POINTS Let us conquer our temptations as Jesus did, using the methods Jesus employed. Jesus conquered his tempter, the devil by prayer, penance, and timely use of the word of God. Hence, during this Lenten season, let us confront our evil tendencies by talking to God, by listening to Him speaking to us though the Holy Bible, and by practicing self-control to subdue our evil tendencies. - Let us convert Lent into a time for spiritual growth and Christian maturity by: - Participating in the Mass each day, or at least a few days in the week; - Setting aside some part of our day for personal prayer; - Reading some Scripture, alone or, better still, with others. - Setting aside some money we might spend on ourselves for meals, entertainment, or clothes and giving it to the Church and other Charity organizations which take care of the less fortunate in our society; - Abstaining from smoking, alcohol, and other evil addictions; - Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Lent and participating in the “Stations of the Cross” on Fridays; - Visiting the sick and those in nursing homes and doing some acts of charity, kindness, and mercy every day in Lent. - Let us use Lent to fight daily against the evil within us and around us - by practicing self-control, relying on the power of prayer, and seeking the assistance and anointing of the Holy Spirit. In this Lenten Period, we are reminded to be more Christ-like in our actions - meaning we should be more loving and compassionate towards others, in giving not just material and financial help, but even more importantly, our attention, affection, time and company - especially for those who have no one to love and care for them. This is our Christian charity and love, through our almsgiving, care and concern for one another. Let us all look forward to a worthy celebration of this love of God at Holy Week and Easter, and make best use of this time of Lent. Amen.