First Sunday Lent Homily Year B

First Sunday Lent Homily

First Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 23
Reading 1 GN 9:8-15
God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
“See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:
all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”
God added:


“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth,
and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made
between me and you and all living beings,
so that the waters shall never again become a flood
to destroy all mortal beings.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9.
R. (cf. 10) Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Good and upright is the LORD,
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and he teaches the humble his way.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Reading 2 1 PT 3:18-22
Beloved:
Christ suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,
who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Verse Before The Gospel MT 4:4B
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Gospel MK 1:12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

 

First Sunday Lent Homily

Springtime of my Heart

“The kingdom of God is close a! hand.

Repent, and believe the Good News” (Mk)

            Lent has begun. The word Lent means ‘springtime’. Indeed, there’s even a flower, or rather a shrub, called ‘Lenten Rose’ which only blossoms between February and April. During this season of Lent, let us savour what each of us could call the springtime of my heart’. Lent brings to mind images of ashes, thorns, fasting and abstinence. True, these symbols do convey the Lenten message. But, they’re only a fraction of the Lenten mystery. Today, Jesus bids us experience his heart that bore the thorns and his Love that seals God’s Covenant.

            In the very first Lenten reading on Ash Wednesday, Yahweh tells people: “Return to me with all your heart! Rend your heart, not your garments!” (Joel 2:12-3). Concretely, it entails hearkening to Jesus’ invitation in today’s gospel: “Repent, and believe the Good News!” Let’s understand the demands of repentance in the light of God’s love.

            The first reading describes God’s covenant with Noah distinguished from other Old Testament covenants in that it is made not with Israel but with the entire human race. Perceived from ‘up there’, the two arms of a rainbow seem to embrace all of humankind without distinctions of creed, country, culture, caste or colour. Is it not heartwarming to realize that God loves everyone, everywhere, always?

            The responsorial psalm reiterates the covenantal theme fortified by God’s faithfulness and love. “Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.” Am I aware that I’m wedded to God by a covenant?

            After Jesus’ resurrection, the Christian community interpreted the flood story in the light of baptism. Thus, just as evil was destroyed by the flood waters, so is human evil washed away by baptismal waters. Today’s second reading from the first letter of Peter juxtaposes Noah’s Ark and Christ’s Bark, the Church. However, baptism is no gilt-edged security for gaining heaven. There is need of repentance and re-turning God wards.

            Repentance, rending and re-turning of one’s heart underlie Jesus’ gospel call for reconciliation, made in the context of God’s Kingdom. There is need for me to accept that I am a sinner and inneed of repentance. The prodigal son experiences salvation the moment he muses, “I must rise and re-turn.” He rents his heart, so to say, away from sinful attachments and re-turned his life’s to reciprocate a father’s faithful love.

            During Lent it’s not enough to fast or abstain from meat, cigarettes or TV Surely, these are commendable ‘actions’. However, going beyond actions (externals), I must question my attitude (internal) towards God, other people and my deepest self. Let me ask myself: Am I doing this to test my willpower? To win favours from God? Or, are these actions spontaneous expression of my love for God?

            Today ‘heart’ and ‘love’ are often rendered meaningless by deviant behaviour. For instance, ‘Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family’, was a. Hollywood film that featured a ‘family’ of two homosexual men and a woman who conceived a child together.

            Desisting similar deviations, we could rediscover the power of love beginning with love in our families and communities. Celebrating ‘Women’s Day’ (March 8) during Lent, we can also question our attitude towards women and the girl-child whose lives are threatened at every step of Life’s journey.

            A pediatrician would plug his stethoscope into his little patients’ ears to let them listen to their own heartbeats. Their eyes would always light up with awe. He was taken aback one day when he placed the disk over little Silvia’s heart. “Listen,” said the doctor, “What do you suppose that is?” Silvia listened carefully at the tap-tap-tapping in her chest and cried, “Is that Jesus knocking?”

            During Lent, Jesus knocks at my heart so that I might love like Him and allow my heart to be pierced like His. True rending, repenting, re-turning must come from my heart. Only then will I understand the reassurance of rainbows and the welcoming warmth of spring – in my heart.

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