LENT I SUNDAY (Gn 9:8-15; I Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15)
Introduction: The primary purpose of Lent is to prepare us for the celebration of Jesus’ death and Resurrection. The Church tries to achieve this goal, leading her children to metanoia or true “repentance” by the reordering of their priorities and the changing of their values, ideals and ambitions, through fasting, prayer and self-control. 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 how man irrevocably broke the original covenant God had made with Adam and Eve and how the merciful God selected Noah and his family to renew the covenant. Noah’s rescue from the flood symbolizes how we are 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 human insufficiency and our radical dependence upon God, His mercy and forgiveness. The psalmist lists some of the characteristics of 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, we are saved through the waters of Baptism. Baptism is an outward sign of the New Covenant that God 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 by his forty days of prayer and penance in the desert immediately after 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.”
Life messages: 1) Let us conquer our temptations as Jesus did, using the methods Jesus employed. Jesus conquered his tempter, the devil by prayer, penance and timely use of the word of God. Hence, during this 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 on 2) Let us convert Lent into a time for spiritual growth and Christian maturity our evil tendencies. 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 for meals, entertainment or clothes and giving it to an organization which takes care of the less fortunate in our society; e) abstaining from smoking, alcohol and other evil 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 doing some acts of charity, kindness and mercy every day in the Lent. 3) 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 anointing of the Holy Spirit.
LENT I SUNDAY Gn 9:8-15; I Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15
Anecdote: # 1: “Baptize the entire Ford Motor Plant,” Henry Ford: You might have heard the story of the machinist who worked years ago at the original Ford Motor Company plant in Detroit, Michigan. Over a period of years, he had “borrowed” from the factory various car parts and tools which he hadn’t bothered to return. While the management never condoned this practice, nothing was ever done about it. In time, however the “forgetful” machinist experienced a Christian conversion and was baptized. More importantly, the man took his Baptism seriously and became a devout believer. The very morning after his Baptism, the machinist arrived at work with his pickup truck loaded with all the parts and tools he had taken from the Ford Company over the years. He went to his foreman and explained that he never really meant to steal them and asked to be forgiven. The foreman was so astonished and impressed by this act that he cabled Henry Ford himself, contacting the auto magnate while he was away visiting a European Ford plant. In his telegram the foreman described the entire event in great detail. Ford immediately cabled back this striking two-line response: “Dam up the Detroit River. Baptize the entire Plant!” Our Scripture for this First Sunday in Lent focuses on the effect our Baptism should have on our lives especially during the Lenten season.
# 2: Danger of raising a tiger and an alligator as pets: Antoine Yates lived in New York City in a multistoried apartment building. For some inexplicable reason he brought home a two-month-old tiger cub and later a young alligator. It’s not clear where he found them and how he reared them. But they were with him for two years — in his apartment. What was a little tiger cub grew to a 500 pound Bengal tiger, and the little alligator to a frightening monster. The police got a distress call from Yates about a “dog” bite and when they got to the 19-story public housing apartment building, they discovered Yates in the lobby with injuries to his right arm and leg. Someone alerted the police to the possibility of a “wild animal” in his apartment. A fourth-floor resident informed them that urine had seeped through her ceiling from Yates’ apartment. The police officer peered through a hole drilled into the wall of Yates’ apartment and saw the huge cat prowling around in the room. To make a long story short, it took a contingent of officers at the door, and the use of a dart gun by a veterinary doctor to bring the tiger under control. When finally, they entered the apartment, they found the big cat lying unconscious atop some newspapers. A big alligator was nearby guarding his unconscious friend. Both animals were trapped and relocated to shelters. His own wild pets tried to kill Yates. That is what happens to those who habitually entertain temptations in the form of evil thoughts and desires. That is why we are asked to practice prayer, fasting and sharing during the Lenten season to resist and conquer our temptations. (Note: 23 additional anecdotes will be uploaded in our website, )