From the Pastor's Desk
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 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." 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 our evil tendencies.
2) 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 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.