Homily For The First Sunday Of Lent, Year B

Let Us Renew Our Covenant With God This Season

Readings: 1st: Gen 9:8-15; Ps 24:4-9; 2nd1Pt 3:18-22: Gos: Mk 1:12-15)

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

(https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8452-8392)

Today is the first Sunday of Lent, a season of renewal. The season of Lent provides us this opportunity to shed off our “spiritually tired and weak skin” to wear a more durable one for our Journey. Therefore, on this first Sunday of Lent, the Church invites us to renew our covenant and relationship with God during this season.

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Our first reading recounts the unconditional covenant between God and Noah, and generally, between God and humanity. After the Flood, God promised humanity that He would never again destroy all life on earth with a Flood. God gave the rainbow as the sign of the covenant, a promise that the entire world would never flood again. It was also a reminder that God can and will judge sin (Gen 9, 8- 15; 2 Pt 2, 5).

One exciting thing about this covenant is that we share in it. Another exciting thing about it is that we still experience the rainbow, the visible sign of this covenant even in our time. Therefore, this season, God offers us another opportunity to renew our commitment to our covenant with Him through Christ, the New Covenant. This renewal must come from our sincere hearts, rather than from only our lips.

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In the second reading of this Sunday, Peter reminds us of God’s New Covenant with us through Christ. He paid a great price to restore us to God. In other words, Christ did not only strengthen the general covenant between God and us but also widened its horizon. He did this by opening the spring of baptism through which we were purified and restored to God.

This is the renewal of the covenant on God’s Part. Hence, all those baptized in the name of Jesus Christ have taken part in this new covenant. Each year, the Church,  Christ’s bride, provides us the opportunity to reflect upon this covenant and renew our commitment to it through the period of Lent. This was why Paul told us on Ash Wednesday: “Do not neglect the grace of God that you have received. Now is the favorable time; the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6, 2).

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Our gospel from Mark briefly narrates the ordeal of Jesus and the sacrifice he made in order to prepare himself for his mission and journey. To be a worthy lamb for the renewal of God’s covenant with his people, Jesus was tested too. Peter states this clearly: “As Gold is tested by fire, so shall your faith be (1 Pt 1, 7). Therefore, today’s gospel reminds us that as Christ was tested, so shall we, too, be tested. Every day of our lives, the devil tempts us and will continue especially, during this sacred season.

This should not make us afraid, because the Holy Spirit who helped Christ is always available to help us. As we prepare to renew our covenant with God, we must persist in prayer, fasting, and abstinence like Christ. We must ask God to grant us the strength to endure until the end of our ordeal as Christ did. We must also ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with humility, courage, and patience this season.

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Finally, we must be ready to identify all that makes it difficult for us to keep our part of our covenant with God. We must repent of them as the scripture says today: “The time has come…Repent and believe the Good News.” Therefore, let us sincerely make use of this Lenten period to ask God for forgiveness for all the times we have not been unfaithful to our covenant with him. As we prepare to renew our commitment to this covenant, let us continue to praise him for his faithfulness, saying: “Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.”

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

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