First Sunday of Lent (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

The season of Lent is here. The forty days of Lent were ushered in by the ritual of Ash Wednesday. In some countries the fasting of Ash Wednesday was preceded by the feasting of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). There will be no feasting until Easter Sunday. Since Christian life is modeled after the life of Jesus Christ, then it follows the pattern of life, death and resurrection. Living in Jesus means dying to sin. Hence the call of the Jesus, “Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mk. 1:14)

Action starter: Make an examination of conscience and go to confession.

The first reading also tells of this pattern of life and death. The flood during the time of Noah was a prelude to a new creation. God re-created the world and started with a remnant which was Noah’s family. God gave the world a second chance. The Good News of Lent is that God gives us a second chance, an infinite number of chances in fact, to renew our lives Lent is a time for renewal.

One who is serious about some changes in his life knows that he has to make some assessment of himself. He has to ask some important questions, “Where am I now?” “What is happening to me?” “Where do I want to go?” Those questions can be given more consideration if we give ourselves some space and time for reflection. The Lenten season provides that atmosphere for assessment. Even Jesus had to undergo forty days of preparation in the desert before he began his public ministry.

When we honestly look into lives, we will be confronted by the reality of sin. There are bound to be areas in our life where we experience some messiness. Things are not quite all right with us. We make a mess of our relationships. We are at odds with our loved ones. We are not quite honest in our business affairs. We do not treat some people justly. Or perhaps, our sins could be sins of omission. We are not dedicated enough to our families and constituents. We do not have the courage to do the right things. We are not right with God.

Sin is real. We only have to look at the sufferings and misery we cause one another. How can one deny the reality of sin in the face of bodies mangled by war? How can one deny sin when thousands of children end up in pornography and other forms of sex trade? Can one say there is no sin when so many people die of hunger everyday? If we say there is no sin we are fooling ourselves.

Another form of delusion is to say that my own sins are not big enough. I am not a terrorist. I have not killed anyone. I have not stolen big amounts ( a little, maybe). If, as some physicists say, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can change weather conditions around the world, so does my “small” sin. Sin creates a “ripple effect.” Every little sin worsens the “situation of sin” in the world.

Lent however is not just about admitting our sinfulness. Lent is primarily about forgiveness. God always welcomes a repentant sinner. God forgives us. Jesus on the cross is the symbol of how far God was willing to go in order to bring the sinner back to Himself. Does God really love me? Does God really forgive my sins? The proof is evident. Look at Jesus on the cross.