First Sunday of Lent 'B'
18 February 2024
Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Pt 3:18-22
The primary purpose of Lent is spiritual preparation for the celebration recalling Jesus’ death on Good Friday and his Resurrection on Easter Sunday. The Church tries to achieve this goal by leading her children to “repentance.” It is a type of conversion – the reordering of our priorities and the changing of our values, ideals and ambitions - through fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Lenten observances are also intended to lead us to our annual solemn renewal of Baptismal vows on Holy Saturday. Through Baptism, we are called to live justly, to love God with all our being, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to build the Kingdom of God by our acts of charity. That is why the three readings chosen as for this the First Sunday of Lent refer to Baptism directly or indirectly.
The First Reading tells us how man irrevocably broke the original covenant God had made with Adam and Eve 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 is a beautiful penitential prayer, humbly acknowledging human insufficiency and our radical dependence upon God, His mercy and forgiveness. The psalmist lists some of the characteristics of the life resulting from this repentance: truth, compassion, love, kindness, goodness, uprightness, humility and justice.
In the Second Reading, St. Peter reminds the Church that an outward sign of the New Covenant that God made with his people through Jesus is Baptism which makes us adopted children of God, heirs of Heaven, and temples of the Holy Spirit. Peter shows us how Noah’s episode prefigured Baptism.
In the Gospel, we are told how Jesus faced and defeated Satan, the tempter, by His forty days of prayer and penance in the desert immediately after His baptism. It also tells us how Jesus started preaching His Messianic mission, "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Let us make Lent a time of renewal of life by penance and prayer. Lent is a time for personal reflection on where we stand as Christians accepting the Gospel challenges in thought, word and deed. It is also a time to assess our relationships with our family, friends, co-workers, and other people we come in contact with.
Let this Lent be a time for spiritual growth and Christian maturity by:
- setting aside some part of our day for personal prayer.
- reading the Bible.
- setting aside some money we might spend on ourselves for meals, entertainment or clothes, and supporting Lenten charity projects in the parish or giving to an organization which takes care of the less fortunate in our society.
- abstaining from addictions.
- participating in the “Stations of the Cross” on Fridays and other Lenten Services.
- visiting the sick and those in nursing homes; doing some acts of charity, kindness and Mercy.