Gospel Reflections

1st Sunday of Lent

Mark 1:12-15

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Antoinette Tombozi

Published: February 22, 2015

Today we celebrate the First Sunday of Lent. Lent recalls for us our Baptism, or the renewal of our baptismal promises. By Baptism, we participate in the Resurrection of Christ; we recall the Resurrection of Jesus. By our Baptism, we are close to God, near to Christ. We enter through him into a new life, a life where all is enlivened and becomes dynamic by the love which is in the heart of Jesus.

The readings today speak to us of Baptism and enlighten us more about our own Baptism. In the first reading, the Apostle Peter gives us an interpretation of the deluge and Noah’s arc. For him “the ark is an image of Baptism which now saves us.“ The story of the deluge which reminds us of the serious inundations. Noah’s ark carries the seed of a new humanity and a new creation. Peter clarifies, in an inspiration from God, the symbols of the deluge and of the ark. The ark is an image of Baptism which now saves us. In confronting evil, the reaction of God towards evil is not to punish but to save. God does not reject the sinner but draws him/her to himself in order to share his own divine life which is love itself. God’s reaction to our sin and our mistakes is love, a love which he wishes to share with us and which will be our cure.

Therefore, to show us his love, God is the one who pays the price. Peter tells us that “once and for all, the Christ dies for our sins…” “The just one dies for the guilty in order to introduce us to God and the love of Jesus, for the sinners that we are; if it is necessary to pay something, it is he who pays. If it is necessary to buy us back, it is he who buys us back in paying with his life. This is the type of divine justice to which we are subject. This is the fate which awaits the sinner. He will contemplate the Christ giving his life to reassure him/her of salvation. There will not be any flood, on the contrary, “I establish my alliance with you and with your descendants…”

Baptism which concludes our Lenten Season, or the renewal of Baptismal promises that we make during the Pascal Vigil is a welcome for the salvation which God gives to us. It is salvation which is deliverance from the menace of Hell. Salvation is the participation in the life of Christ in all its riches, and in the Heart of Christ in all the generosity with which he gives himself. The Spirit which descended on him at his Baptism pushes him into the desert. We too have been baptized and have to go into the desert. The prophet Osee will say of his unfaithful spouse, “I will lead her into the desert and will speak to her heart.” Hosea 2:16).

The Spirit will inspire Jesus again to preach, die and live his Easter. The desert is described at first negatively as a place of danger, of Satan, symbolized by wild beasts, and also by barrenness, with nothing surrounding the person. It is a place of silence and self searching. Then positively, it is a place of nearness to God, signified by the angels who minister to Jesus. It is a place like Paradise. Jesus’ sojourn in the desert is also a time of grace. God has promised that he will lead the Israelites again to the desert, and that will be a time of peace between men and animals: ”I will make for them an alliance that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea.” Jesus fulfills these promises in the desert where he lives with the wild beasts and where the angels minister to him. In Psalm 91 (Ps 91:11-13): “He has given command to his angels to guard him in all his ways; they will carry you so that your foot will not get dashed upon stones.”….

With the strength of the Spirit, Jesus is victor over evil and lives in a manner in which the peace of Heaven is able to exist in our world. From our Baptism, we have received the same Spirit which makes us strong also, in order to conquer evil and to spread around us a little bit of that heavenly peace. This is the sign that we take part in a new humanity which began with the new Adam, Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to help us this Lent to make our own his teachings in renouncing evil and whatever leads us to sin. During this Lent, let us love one another!

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