The First Sunday of Lent
In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL
We have now begun our Lenten journey. It is a journey that will prepare us to fully experience Christ's passion, death and resurrection. Our readings this Sunday
ask us to consider our own Baptism and to turn our attention to prayer, fasting and works of penance. These will temper our sinful nature and bring us closer to Jesus.
In our first reading, (Genesis 9:8:15)
, we hear God's covenant with Noah. After Noah's salvation through the waters of the flood (prefiguring our baptism), God promises to never again destroy humanity with the waters of a flood. From that point on, water has always symbolized cleansing, rebirth and baptism.
God said to Noah and to his sons with him: "See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth."
God added: "This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings."
In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:12-15)
, we hear of Jesus' temptation in the desert, which occurs in Mark's Gospel immediately after his baptism. These two events (baptism and temptation) signify Jesus' willing entry into the human experience. Jesus willingly submits to both as a sign of his solidarity with all of humanity. This marks the beginning of his public ministry as he proclaims, "The Kingdom of God is at hand . . ."
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
In our Epistle reading (1 Peter 3:18-22)
, St. Peter draws a direct connection between the sinfulness of man, the saving waters of Noah's new life and Jesus's entering into our world through his own baptism as well as his suffering with us and for us.
Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
Jesus is often referred to as the "new Adam" in contrast to the first Adam, who allowed Satan's temptation to have mastery over him. In today's Gospel, Jesus triumphs over Satan and his empty promises. This sets the stage for the beginning Jesus' public ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God. It is also the start of our Lenten journey toward the cross and Jesus' final mastery over Satan and death. We are called to the same ideal, through the grace of God. This is the season to "repent and believe in the Gospel."
- Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for February 18, 2017