First Sunday of Lent Year B
21 February 2021
“The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel.” Mk. 1: 15
Today, the First Sunday of Lent, we are brought into the essential meaning of Lent which is to repent of our sins and do penance. We are called, like Jesus in today’s gospel (Mk. 1:12-15), to go into the wilderness. Like Jesus who overcame Satan in the wilderness, we have to continually resist temptations to sin. Jesus Christ goes before us in triumph over sin and Satan. With Him we, too, can overcome the Prince of this World and enter the Kingdom of Heaven which was prepared for us by God from all eternity.
The Deluge, a Punishment for Sin
In the First Reading from Book of Genesis (9:8-15), we see how men were punished for their sins by the deluge when it rained “forty days and forty nights.” Gen. 7:4 Man had become so wicked and evil that God had to destroy them, but in His mercy he spared one innocent family from which the human race could multiply once more. As a sign of God’s willingness to forgive and as a promise that He would never again destroy the world with water, He set a rainbow in the sky as a sign of His covenant with Noah and all men. “And I will remember my covenant with you, and with every living soul that beareth flesh: and there shall no more be waters of a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the clouds, and I shall see it, and shall remember the everlasting covenant ...” Gen. 9:15-16
Jesus Conquers Satan and Sin
In the Second Reading from the First Epistle of St. Peter (3:18-22), we see how much God’s covenant was extended with the coming of Jesus Christ: “Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust: that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit,” I Pet. 3:18 With His death, Jesus Christ conquered sin and made us heirs to eternal life: (Jesus Christ) “Who is on the right hand of God, swallowing down death, that we might be made heirs of life everlasting:” I Pet. 3:22 St. Peter shows this by comparing the ark of Noah to the saving waters of Baptism. In the days of the flood, only a few were saved in the ark; now with the sacrament of Baptism all who come to its saving waters will be saved. Thus, we can see how water destroyed man and sin in the days of Noah, but with Christ the saving waters of Baptism saved all men. In the sacramental waters, we see the profound difference with the coming of Jesus Christ who will give mankind all kinds of blessings: “Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever: But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting” Jn. 4:13-4
The Kingdom of God is at hand
This is the rallying cry of St. Mark’s brief account of Jesus’ coming out into the wilderness under the power of the Spirit. Unlike the other two Synoptic writers, St. Matthew and St. Luke, St. Mark does not tell of the three temptations of Satan. With His triumph in the wilderness over Satan, as we see in Jesus going unharmed with the wild beasts after His forty day fast, the angels ministered to Him. All has now been fulfilled in time; Satan’s reign over man has ended: “The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel.” Mk. 1:15
“...repent, and believe the gospel.”
Now in order to make sure that we attain our eternal salvation, we need to overcome the temptations of Satan. God will never let us be tempted beyond our power to resist. He gives us the necessary graces to overcome all the temptations that come to us. All we need to do is to pray for the grace to overcome our temptations. Sadly, today, many do not live good lives and fall into many sins. This is why St. Paul reminds us that sinners, who do not repent, will not enter the Kingdom of heaven: “Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liars with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God.” I Cor. 6:9-19 The most blessed gift which Jesus gave to His Church for repentance is the sacrament of penance when He said to His Apostles: “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” Jn. 20: 23 How blessed we are to have our sins forgiven! The prophet Isaiah, foretelling of the forgiveness of sins by the Messiah, said: “ ...if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.” Is. 1:18 St. Padre Pio, who spent longs hours everyday in the confessional told his spiritual children to go to confession frequently: “Poor child, do you not know the many graces that you miss by not going to frequent confession.” Frequent confession should be at least once a month as Our Lady said at Fatima for the Five First Saturdays. With the practice of the Five First Saturdays ( Mass and Holy Communion, five decades of the Holy Rosary, Confession eight days before or after the First Saturday and keeping Our Lady company by meditating on the Holy Rosary) Our Lady promised that she would be with us when we die with all the graces for our eternal salvation. What a glorious promise! How kind is Our Lady to all her children who obey her request.