The primary purpose of Lent is to prepare us for the celebration of Jesus’ death and Resurrection. The second purpose is to bring us to renew our Baptismal promises of rejecting Satan and accepting Jesus
as our Lord and Savior, allowing Him to rule our lives. The aim of both is a purification of minds and hearts. The Church tries to achieve this goal by leading her children to a metanoia or true “repentance,” and by renewal of life through fasting, prayer, almsgiving, self-control, and practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. During Lent, we talk to God through personal, family, and liturgical prayers; we listen to Him by meditative Bible reading. We serve the Lord by giving alms, and we practice self-control through fasting. Since by Baptism we share the death and Resurrection of Jesus, today’s readings refer to Baptism directly or indirectly.
The Scripture lessons: The first reading tells us that, although man irrevocably broke the original covenant God had made with Adam and Eve, the merciful God selected Noah and his family to renew that covenant. Noah’s rescue from the flood waters symbolizes our being saved through the water of Baptism which cleanses us of sin and makes us one with Christ. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 25) is an exquisite penitential prayer, humbly acknowledging our human insufficiency and radical dependence upon God, His mercy, and His forgiveness. The psalmist lists some of God’s own characteristics that will shape the life of the forgiven penitent: Truth, Compassion, Love, Kindness, Goodness, Uprightness, Humility and Justice. In the second reading, St. Peter shows us how Noah’s episode prefigured Baptism. He reminds us that, as Noah and his family were saved from the waters of the deluge, so we are saved through the waters of Baptism. Baptism is an outward sign
of the New Covenant that God has made with His people. It makes us adopted children of God, heirs of Heaven, and temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel, we are told that Jesus faced and defeated the tempter at the end of His 40 days of prayer, penance and communion with the Father in the desert immediately following His baptism. It also tells us how Jesus started preaching His Messianic mission: “The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Believe in the Gospel.”
- Let us conquer our temptations as Jesus did, using the methods Jesus employed: prayer, self-denial and timely use of the word of God. During Lent, let us confront our evil tendencies by talking to God, by listening to Him speaking to us though the Holy Bible, and by practicing self-control to subdue our evil
- Let us convert Lent into a time for spiritual growth and Christian maturity by: a) participating in the Mass each day, or at least a few days in the week; b) setting aside some part of our day for personal prayer; c) reading some Scripture, alone or, better still, with others; d) setting aside some money we might spend on ourselves and giving it to an organization which takes care of the less fortunate in our society; e) abstaining from smoking, alcohol and other addictions; f) receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Lent and participating in the “Stations of the Cross” on Fridays; g) visiting the sick and those in nursing homes, and h) doing some acts of charity, kindness and mercy every day in the Lent.
- Let us use Lent to fight daily against the evil within us and around us by practicing self-control, relying on the power of prayer, and seeking the assistance and the daily anointing of the Holy