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First Sunday of Lent

March 1, 2009

Blessed “little Easter”!

Sunday, even during Lent, is a day to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, just as every Friday is a “Little Good Friday”, a day of gratitude for the death He suffered for our salvation. If you’ve given up something good for Lent (as opposed to a bad habit you’re trying to break!) Sundays might be an appropriate time to enjoy it as a way of celebrating.

Lord our God,
You formed man from the clay of the earth
and breathed into him the spirit of life,
but he turned from You and sinned.
In this time of repentance
we call out for Your mercy.
Bring us back to You
and to the life Your Son won for us
by His death of the cross,
for He lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
(Alternative Opening Prayer for the First Sunday of Lent)

Genesis 9:8-15 (God promises Noah that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood)
Psalm 25:4-6, 7-9 “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth, to those who keep Your covenant”
I Peter 3:18-22 (We’re saved through Baptism as Noah was through the flood)
+Mark 1:12-15 (Jesus’ temptation in the desert & preaching)

Don’t miss the boat!

The desert is dry, desperately dry. Out here, water takes on a whole new meaning–we’re certainly not taking it for granted anymore! The forty days, the obsession with water and the presence of wild beasts draw the mind to Noah’s forty days of rain in an ark full of beasts. Just as that saga ended with a new covenant between God and man, so too this desert experience is drawing us to a new covenant, to a new family relationship with God. We enter into this new covenant through water, through Baptism, and just as it was Noah’s rejection of sin, his righteousness, that got him into the ark in the first place, so it’s our rejection of sin that brings us to the waters of Baptism.

“You are now saved by a baptismal bath that corresponds to this exactly” (I Peter 3:21).

For the catechumens who will be Baptized at Easter, these forty days are their final preparation, their time of purification and enlightenment leading into the awesome mysteries of salvation.

But it doesn’t end there. With Baptism, our salvation has just begun. We are tempted after Baptism just as Jesus was. Every year these forty days challenge us to tame the wild beasts (our untamed desires) and to let the angels (our guardian angels) minister to us. We have the chance to demonstrate that we meant what we said when we promised to reject Satan and all his empty promises, and to hold to all that God’s revealed through His Church. Then at the Easter Vigil we will proclaim the promises we’ve been living, renewing our Baptismal vows with the whole community of believers.

Through it all Jesus calls to us. It’s time! The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the good news!

He’s been watching the skies. He knows the floodgates of Heaven are about to open. He wants us on the ark.

May our forty days of repentance reinforce our commitment to our Baptismal vows.

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