Sunday, February 22, 2015

1st Sunday of Lent - Walking in the Desert

We are now in the season of Lent.  Lent is a time for spiritual renewal. Today's readings remind us that God always keeps His promises and patiently waits for us to return to Him.

In the first reading from Genesis, we read of how God establishes a covenant with Noah. As you may know, Noah was selected by God to build an ark. In this ark, animals of all kinds would have shelter from a great flood that would wipe the Earth clean of people who have become so wicked that they could not tell right from wrong any longer. Humanity once again failed and God pressed the "reset button," so to speak. However, God promised that the world would not be destroyed via a flood of this magnitude and used the bow in the clouds or the rainbow as confirmation of that promise. This story should remind us that God always keeps His promise (Numbers 23:19). The great flood wiping out the wickedness of humanity and "resetting" the world was a prefigurement to Baptism where Original Sin is wiped away and the doors to salvation are opened up to us. God waits for us to return to Him.

This brings us to the responsorial Psalm which reminds us that God's ways are of love and truth.  God is not out to torment us or make us fall. He wants the best of us. God wants us to live in truth and not confusion (James 1:5). No matter what we do in life, God will always be with us and will never abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). The Psalm reminds us of this and that God has our well-being always in mind.

In the second reading, Peter reminds us that Christ suffered for all of our sins once. He suffered for the good and bad on Earth and those souls in Purgatory or the "spirits in prison."  Peter tells us of the days of Noah and how the eight passengers along with the animals were saved through water. During the forty days, the great flood represented a long period or a period of preparation or transition (Deuteronomy 8:2). For us Catholics, Lent is a period of preparation and renewal into the person of Christ via His passion, death and resurrection. This brings us to the Gospel.

In the Gospel, we are told that the Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert where he roamed for forty days. While there, Satan tempted Him. The desert is a dry, hot place that seems lifeless. During Lent, we walk in a spiritual desert in order to seek Jesus. Satan and his minions will, of course, appear to us along this journey and tempt us. Like Jesus, we must renounce him and all his empty promises. Walking in this spiritual desert is not easy. Catholics often "give up" something for Lent and there is a reason for this. This "giving up" reminds us that we do not need anything but God in our lives.  We live only by God's word and grace (Matthew 4:4).

Fasting and giving up meat on Fridays is a symbolic representation of this self-denial and total reliance on God who cares for all (Matthew 6:26-30). We trust solely in God's providence. Moreover, the Gospel not only tells us briefly of Christ's  temptation in the desert, but it also reminds us that the kingdom of God is at hand and that we should repent and believe in the Gospel. This thought should be in our minds during Lent and after Lent. God patiently waits for us to return to Him (Isaiah 30:18).  Lent is a period of preparation via penance. We should make use of the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Let us go now and find Jesus in the desert, ignoring the temptations of the ancient liar.    

 








Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022215.cfm

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