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Friday, 20 February 2015

Reflection/Homily: First (1st) Sunday of Lent Year B (February 22 2015)

Reflection/Homily: First (1st) Sunday of Lent Year B (February 22 2015)
Theme: Repent and Believe in the Gospel

A covenant ordinarily speaking could mean a binding agreement between two or more people, equal or unequal. When one ponders on the covenant God established with man, we wonder why the All Powerful God had to go into an agreement with mortal men who solely depend on Him? Likening our relationship with God to our relationship with our possessions (like our pets), do we need to make an agreement with our dogs not to sell them off when they are sick? We need not go into agreements with them before taking actions for or against them. But despite the great inequality between God and man, God had to go into agreements with man just to convince us of how much He loves and values us. In the first reading (Gn 9:8-15), we see one of such unmerited agreements God had with humanity through Noah. Before then, humanity rebelled against God and He had to wipe them away leaving only the righteous Noah, his family and a few animals. After that, God promised never to wipe away humanity with the flood again. This covenant He made with Noah, He signed with the rainbow in the cloud. 

In the second reading (1 Peter 3:18-22), St. Peter examines the waters of the flood as a foreshadow of the waters of baptism through which we are now saved. The sacrament of baptism is thus another covenant through which God saves His people.  We could find some relationship between the two covenants seen in the first and second readings. In the first, water was the object of destruction through the waters of the flood while it became the object of salvation in the second through the waters of baptism. While a few were saved in the first, all who desire to be saved will be saved in the second. The Ark was the vehicle of salvation in the first while the Church which is the New Ark is the vehicle of salvation in the second and in every covenant, God’s desire is to have all men saved. 

The Gospel reading (Mark 1:12-15) tell us what to do in other to be saved; we have to repent of our evil ways and believe in the Gospel. This season of Lent which the Church has just launched us into gives us a wonderful opportunity to repent and believe in the Gospel. The season of lent is a wonderful opportunity to look into ourselves and reevaluate our relationship with God. Sometimes, people’s opinions about us may present us as saints but we alone truly know who we are and what we are. This is the period of self-amendment and reconciliation with God and man. To make this season fruitful for us, the Church recommends we commit ourselves to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We are encouraged to pray well during this season, to fast from food, drinks and all those pleasurable things we are addicted to and to offer the fruits of our fasting to the poor as alms. Our alms must be devoid of public show of philanthropism.

In observing these great Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and alms-giving, we can be sure that we may be tempted and challenged by the devil who even tempted Christ as we saw in the gospel reading. For this reason, the letter to the Hebrews says “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, though he did not sin” (4:15) and in another place it says “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested” (2:18). Therefore, let us confidently approach His gracious throne, there we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most, especially when we are tempted beyond our limit (cf. Heb. 4:16). Do not be frightened with the temptations of the devil, be determined and strong and you will see the angels assisting you just as they assisted Jesus in the gospel reading. God loves you.  Happy Sunday,
-          Uwakwe Chibuike MFC

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