Saturday, February 21, 2015

First Sunday of Lent Year B

Readings: Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15
A time of fulfillment; a time of spiritual surgery; a time to turn around; a time to be renewed by Christ. 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 surgery and 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 humanity and all 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 best - a catastrophic deluge. The saving of Noah, his family 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 overcome all those temptations. Jesus is tempted in order to give us his own example of putting up a good fight. We need to arm ourselves in order to put up a good fight in facing temptations. That is why Jesus makes such an urgent appeal for repentance. 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. This is a total spiritual transformation. “God has an incredible dream for each of us.  He wants us to be the best version of ourselves.” This is a call for a radical change that 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 as disciples and stewards of Jesus. Lent is a time of inner spiritual surgery, a time when we search deep within our souls and personality to see where that surgery is needed, in order to amend, to change and transform our lives in readiness for Easter. To use another metaphor, Lent is a time we undergo a “spiritual panel beating” in order to get back into shape as God intends us to be. We undergo such a process in order to be the best version of ourselves. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) During the 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 a time of inner spiritual surgery, a time when we search deep within our souls and personality to see where that surgery is needed. 3) It is a decisive turn around in order to enter into a deeper relationship with God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In so doing we become the best version of ourselves.

©2015 John S. Mbinda

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