First Sunday of Lent B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

Today we celebrate, in this Holy Mass, in this Holy Eucharist, the First Sunday of Lent. Last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we began this liturgical season that commemorates the forty days that Our Lord spent in the desert. Today, in the Gospel Reading, Saint Mark talks to us succinctly about the temptations that Jesus suffered. This Lenten season is a time to think about temptation and sin in our lives but, on a more positive note, it is also a time to think about everything that can lead us to an inner, spiritual, renewal.

A constant teaching of the Bible is that human beings need salvation. Whoever looks inside herself or himself, whoever enters into her or his inner self with sincerity, discovers that there are impulses, temptations that drag us all to sin. Many times these appear to be almost like chains that bind us and do not allow us to follow God as we should. When we hold on to our own sinful ways and refuse to change we find that we feel as if we were imprisoned by a world that does not want us to live the sincere and honest life that a follower of Jesus should live. This makes our return to Jesus much more difficult, if not impossible. Only when we reach out for the hand of Christ, our best friend, our Savior, can we break those chains, come out of the prison and move on to a better world where peace, love and truth prevail.

The Bible clearly shows us that there is only one person who can save us. There is only one Savior who is God and who offers us his salvation: that is Jesus Christ. And we, as Christians, know that we can reach his salvation through our Catholic faith. In a world where it appears that chaos and sin reign supreme, our faith is like the Ark that saved Noah and all of his family from the waters of the flood. The new creation that arose after that great flood is a symbol of the new life, the life of grace brought about by the death and resurrection of Jesus, that we can also reach if we break with our old life of sin and turn our eyes to him.

Salvation is at the reach of everyone. As sure as the rainbow appears when the sun comes out after a strong storm, God offers us our salvation. Nothing, no one, can take that from us if we really want to reach it. Saint Mark tells us that the first time that Jesus preached in public he said: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). Our reply to the call of Christ to salvation should be repentance, in other words conversion, and faith. Conversion, turning away from sin, is a crucial moment in the life of any person. Without it we cannot say that we are truly Christians. Yet, we should remember that conversion is not that strong reaction that we may feel when we hear a preacher who attracts and dazzles with his or her emotional and ardent words. Christian conversion is conversion to the person of Jesus. The Lord himself asks us to leave other ways of life, even those that may appear to be more attractive, and take the road that leads to him, our personal way of the Cross. Our faith should be in Jesus Christ, in his life, in his doctrine, in his teaching, not in people, however well they speak and preach.

Sisters and brothers: May the Lord grant us a special and different Lent compared to others we have lived. May we know how to take advantage of these days to go through a complete conversion experience doing everything that Jesus asks of us to change our lives so that we can truthfully say that we are his good and faithful servants.