FIRST READING Genesis 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.”
SECOND READING 1 Peter 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.
GOSPEL Mark 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.”
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Part of Lent is deepening our awareness that we people who have a Covenant with the Living God. We are not just people who believe in God. We are a people sought out by God, a people formed by God and a people with a special love relationship with God. Only when we are deeply aware of His love for us can we truly begin to do penance in a Christian way.
The first reading today is from the Book of Genesis and recounts the establishment of the Covenant with Noah and his descendants. Many times in the history of the Chosen People, God has made Covenants. These Covenants mark important events in the life of the Chosen People and are a sign of God’s choosing this people and remaining faithful to His choice. What happens always is that God remains faithful to the Covenant and we do not. Yet we are called to look back at these Covenants and to let God change our faithlessness to faithfulness.
The second reading today is from the First Letter of Peter. This portion of the letter refers us once again to the Covenant with Noah and explains even more clearly that we must return to faithfulness. The letter points out that it is Christ who has died for our sins and that we cannot think that the death of Christ was simply a removal of dirt from the body. Rather the death of Christ our consciences are made clean by our faith in Him. Thus we are invited to choose Jesus Christ once again in this time of Lent and know that He is our salvation.
The Gospel of this First Sunday of Lent is always the Gospel of Christ in the Desert, the temptations of Christ fasting for forty days. The account this year comes from the Gospel of Mark and is very, very short. Saint Mark simply tells us that Jesus was in the desert forty days and was tempted and that angels ministered to Him. When Jesus leaves the desert, he begins His ministry of preaching. He preaches repentance and belief in the Good News of God.
We are invited to see that Lent is a time of Good News of God. Lent is a time to believe more deeply in this God who loves us and comes to save us in every situation. Lent is a time to listen attentively to the Word of God and to meditate on what this Word means in our lives. We are invited to turn away from anything that misleads us and walk always the way of the Lord.
Your brother in the Lord,