Sunday, February 21, 2021

1st Sunday of Lent: God's Enduring Covenant

We are now in the season of Lent.  It is a season of penance, repentance, and preparation. Our parishes and clergy are adorned with violet or purple vestiture symbolizing penance. We fast and abstain from meat to imitate Jesus in the desert who ate nothing for 40 days. Today's readings reflect on God's reach to humanity via His covenant and that we rely on Him.

In the first reading, we read of God speaking to Noah and his sons. God establishes a covenant between them and their descendants.  The covenant is not only with them but also with nature. Every living creature, all the birds and wild animals is a part of this covenant. God says that He will never again destroy creatures with floodwaters. God had punished the world by pushing the cosmic reset button, so to speak. The world had gotten so horrible and sinful that there was no way for it to come back.  It reached the point of no return. The world was too far gone so God has to start again. He flooded the world to the point that everything died except Noah, his family, and the animals that were aboard the ark. Now there are many ideas surrounding the story. Some say it is allegorical while others say it is literally true. Some say the world was not flooded and only a specific region while others say the entire globe was flooded. Scholars debate the details. Despite this, we cannot ignore the facts of the story. God made a covenant. He used the bow in the sky to serve as a sign. This bow is of course the rainbow. The rainbow belongs to God, not any group or political agenda. We have to be clear about this. The reading shows us how God still pursues humanity despite how bad it can get. He is just but also merciful. His ways are love and truth, as the responsorial Psalm tells us.

We must ask God to make His ways known to us and teach us the path of righteousness. God is our guide and teacher. This path of righteousness is not easy. As we read in the first reading, God did destroy the wicked. His ways are love and truth; truth can hurt many times. I know coming from an atheist background the cliche of the "God of the Old Testament" being this evil, sadistic God. Comic books like "The Preacher" even parody this caricature of God as an evil God who loves to torture or is an immature being that punishes on a knee-jerk reaction, so to speak. This is not true. The Old Testament does not depict some sadistic God that is different from what the New Testament depicts God as.  We see a just God who punishes the wicked. Without justice, nothing can function. This is why we seek God and rely on His compassion which is from old. This compassion is shown in the covenant. God could have just erased the universe. Instead, He erased the wicked like a gardener pruning the bad branches and weeding out the weeds that are destructive to the ecosystem.  God is good and upright. He shows sinners the way and guides the humble to justice. We must rely on Him always. The second reading puts it into perspective.

In the second reading, we read of how Christ suffered for sins once. This means that Jesus died and suffered for all of our sins once. This is important to know in regards to the Mass.  Many of our separated brethren in the Protestant faith believe Catholics re-sacrifice Jesus over and over. This is not true. The Mass is a reenactment of the passion of Christ. We are seeing it happen like a movie that is taped or recorded already and we are just replaying it. Jesus is not being sacrificed again. His sacrifice was once and transcends time. At Mass, we link to that sacrifice via the Holy Eucharist. Jesus died for everyone. He was the innocent who died for the sake of the not so innocent. All of this was done to lead us to God.  His flesh was put to death bringing the Spirit to us which brings life.  Jesus even reached those in the afterlife who waited since the days of Noah. This prison is often called hell but is like purgatory. They waited there for Christ.  The waters of the flood were a prefigurement of baptism. God washed the world of the original sin.  The flood was not just a big punishment, it foreshadows baptism. This all links to Jesus. Jesus sits at the Father's right had pleaded for us all. All angels, authorities, and powers are under Him and are subject to Him. Jesus is our only hope. This is why there is no one else who saves. Only Jesus does.  We rely on Him.  The Gospel introduces Jesus' desire to reach the world even at the expense of HIs own life and comfort.

In the Gospel, we get a brief taste of Lent. Jesus is taken the desert by the Spirit. He is there for forty days. While there, Satan comes to tempt Him. It was not a good experience. The devil is the ultimate and first troll. He trolled Jesus trying to get Him to break with the Father. Here we see that Satan is not an all-knowing being. He did not know who Jesus was and was trying to figure Him out. Despite all he did, Jesus never broke His Father's will. Angels ministered to Him.  After John was arrested, Jesus became the prominent figure preaching repentance and faith. Jesus went to Galilee to preach the Gospel of God. He reminded them that the kingdom is at hand. This is the kingdom of God. To be part of this kingdom, we must not only believe in God but follow HIs will. We must repent and believe in the Gospel. Believing in the GOspel is not just saying "I believe." By believing, we follow it. We put into action what we believe. This is what Lent show brings us to. During Lent, we must get closed to God and help one another. We must put the Gospel into practice.  During this period of Covid-19 Coronavirus, we can enhance our Lenten experience by offering more sacrifices for the sake of our relationship with God.  God's covenant endures forever. He never breaks it.   



Readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/022121.cfm



Lent is a season of penance and also charitable works. One way of being charitable is by helping our ministry pay its bills and expand. Please donate at our Paypal, www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus, or become a monthly Patreon on www.patreon.com/sacerdotus.  You can also purchase items at our online store https://teespring.com/stores/sacerdotus-store. Your funds help us a great deal. We need your help!

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