March 1 First Sunday of Lent Year B
Readings: Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15
At the beginning of each Lenten Season we are called to renew our response to God's covenant with us, the promise that God made with each of us at Baptism. Lent is meant to be a time for our spiritual tune up; a time of getting closer to the Lord. It is a time to prepare for what lies ahead. Noah's story in the first reading fits perfectly with this understanding of the Lenten season. The image of Noah building the ark and the deluge destroying creation opens a window into the drama of human struggle with evil. The flood was the result of humankind's desire to seek security in pleasure and wickedness, despite God's warning. The people of Noah's time turned a deaf ear, and even laughed at Noah building the ark. Since they did not listen to God's invitation to conversion, God used a language people could understand - a catastrophic deluge. The saving of Noah and part of creation points to God's salvation in Christ through the New Ark of the Covenant- the Church, in the waters of Baptism.
The Gospel continues with the same theme of repentance in the words of Jesus: "This is the time of fulfilment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel". Jesus had just returned from the wilderness where he had been fasting and in the end tempted by the devil and was able to overcame all those temptations. Jesus is convinced that it is possible to overcome temptations no matter how strong they might be; it is possible to turn away from sin and turn to God. By overcoming those temptations, Jesus gives us his own example. That is why Jesus makes such an urgent appeal. "This is the time of fulfilment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel." The time has come for us to make a decisive turn around and to enter into right relationship with God in the Kingdom that is already approaching. The idea of repentance in the Old Testament is summed up in the Greek term "metanoia", a turning way from sin and returning to right action. Jesus' call comes out of this background appealing for repentance and "a change of heart." This is a call for a radical change in our whole way of seeing life and the world. It involves a total transformation and assuming a new perspective in life based on the values Jesus teaches. As we begin Lent it is important that we sharpen our understanding of this wonderful season. Lent is a time of inner surgery, a time when we search deep within our souls and personality to see where we have offended God, in order to amend, change and transform our lives in readiness for the Paschal mystery of Easter. Lent is a time we try to be what we should be (perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect), in order to set the world on fire through our witness of life. So what is the message? 1) At the beginning of each Lenten season we are called to take to heart the message of Jesus in today’s Gospel “Repent and believe in the gospel”; 2) Lent is therefore a call for a radical change of heart in response to Jesus’ call for repentance and for transformation of our lives; 3) Lent is a decisive turn around in order to enter into a right relationship with God.
©2009 John M. Mbinda