Theme: LENT IS A TIME OF PENANCE, REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION
- Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7;
- Psalm 50:3-6. 12-14. 17. R. v. 3;
- Romans 5:12-19
- Matthew 4:1-11
Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter, particularly, when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night or renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion!
During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor in order to help us in our conversion! Conversion is not only turning away from sin, but conversion is also turning away from oneself and from the world, but above all conversion is turning to God!
On Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the priest distributed the ashes with these or similar words: “Repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mk 1:15/HCSB) In other words, turn away from sin, from oneself and from the world, and turn to God!
The first reading tells us that Adam and Eve turned away from God and turned towards themselves! They wanted to “be like gods”! The wanted to be independent of God and they wanted to be dependent on themselves. They committed the Original Sin of Pride. They committed the radical sin of self-reliance, and of self-sufficiency! They brought death to the world! The very words of the tempter, the devil, tell us of the very nature of the Sin of Adam and Eve!
Thus we read in the first reading: “The serpent asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death”.’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.’” (Gn 3:1-5)
But more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ turned away from the world and turned to God! To begin with, the 40 days of Jesus Christ in the desert correspond to the 40 years of the Israelites in the desert; and the 3 temptations of Jesus Christ correspond to the 3 temptations of the Israelites in the desert and later in the Promised Land, namely, the temptations of bread, water, and idol worship! The temptations of bread and water were in the desert and the temptation of worshiping idols was in Canaan, the Promised Land. (NJB/CSB/Craghan) The 3 answers of Jesus Christ to the 3 temptations tell us that Jesus Christ turned away from the world and turned to God!
Thus we read in the gospel: (i) “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (ii) “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” (iii) “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.”
But most importantly, the second reading tells us that in Adam, we turned away from God and sinned and we experienced death, but in Jesus Christ and through his grace, we turned back to God and we live!
Thus we read in the second reading: “It was by one man’s offence that death came to reign over all, but how much greater the reign in life of those who receive the fullness of grace and the gift of saving justice, through the one man Jesus Christ.”! (Rm 5:17/NJB)
The responsorial psalm is a prayer of repentance and conversion! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps 50:3)
The responsorial psalm has 4 stanzas. In the first and second stanzas, the psalmist asks God to forgive his sins. (Ps 50:3-6) In the third and fourth stanzas, the psalmist asks God to transform him so that he will not sin anymore! (Ps 50:12-14. 17/CSB/IBC)
King David prayed this psalm after taking someone’s wife and killing the husband. (NJB) Today we make this responsorial psalm our own prayer of repentance and conversion!
Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, to help us during this time of Lent, to do penance, to repent and to convert, so that we may be prepared to celebrate Easter, and particularly, so that we may be prepared to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, or renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, and die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A happy Lent to all of you! Amen!