Saturday, February 25, 2012

Homily: First Sunday of Lent B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

First Sunday of Lent Year B:  Reflections- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
 Readings: Gen 9:8-15; Ps 25:4-9; 1 Pet 3:18-22; and Mark 1:12-15

Strengthening Our Covenant with God

On Ash Wednesday, when we received those ashes, we were introduced into a new liturgical season of Lent; a season of prayer,fasting, repentance, spiritual and covenant renewals. Lent reminds of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, fasting and praying. Lent is a time we re-learn obedience to God and how to manage trials and temptations of this life. Jesus our new Adam and Moses is the best teacher in this case (Matt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-15 and Luke 4:1-13).

It is an apportunity for us to reconcile with ourselves; our neighbors and with God. It provides us an opportunity to recharge our spiritual batteries, practice charity, works of mercies and recall our promises from baptism till now. It provides each of us an opportunity to strengthen our covenant relationship with God, while we remain opened in obedience and humility to be nourished by the word of God and by the examples of the saints.

The first reading of today recalls not only God’s covenant with Noah, and the sign of the rainbow which affirms God’s abiding presence among us, but the centrality of covenant theology in our relationship with God. This goes back to the early chapters of the Book of Genesis (Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7; 4). Here we read about the fall of our first parents, who disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. As if this was not enough, Cain slaughtered his brother Abel, and humanity was preoccupied with pride. Should God destroy creation? However, he made unconditionally possible the saving Ark of Noah (Gen 6:5-8, 7:1-5, 10), which foreshadows the baptism of Christ and his saving mission, for those who keep the covenant (Psalm 25:4-10).

Similarly in the Second Reading ( 1 Peter 3:18-22) Peter reminds us that in Baptism we die and resurrect with Christ. Lent provides  an opportunity for us to rethink our commitment as Christians; Our vows and values. Values to imitate Christ our Lord who went about doing good, comforting, healing, teaching, forgiving, and resisting temptations, even to dance to the tone of Satan!

In  today's Gospel temptation episode (Mark 1:12-15), Jesus teaches us how to resist temptations. There are so many of them: be it abuse of power, our sexuality, money, wealth, prestige or all the natural recourses God has bless this earth with.

Satan is in doubt if our Lord has such power to turn stone into bread! Of course, Jesus does. He does not dance to the music of Satian. Jesus would use his power appropriately for the glory of God, for compassion and love for everyone, men, women and children, and forgiveness of sins.

 In Matthew 14:15-21, 15:32-38, and John chapter 6, Jesus miraculously multiplied a few fish and bread feeding multitude of people, men, women and children. Jesus never exercises his divine power for his own glory, but always for the glory of God.  He was unquestionably obedient to his Father. He conquered and shamed Satan when he said, “man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

As a renewed Israel, a new creation after Noah’s flood, Lent would be a favorable time for us to reconsider the truths of the Gospel and reevaluate our covenant with God.  None of us is above temptations and trials.

 As we journey through this special season, let us as a new creation pray for increase in grace, to imitate Jesus by overcoming trials and temptations, strengthening our covenant relationship with Christ.  And may nothing separate us from the love of God as we persevere in our lenten observances, and dispose ourselves to the Angels, who would always be there to minister unto us.