Fr. Vincent Hawkswell
On Wednesday we began the Season of Lent, when we repent our sins and do penance for them. When God assumed human nature, he assumed our sins and all they deserved. This is the “good news” of the Gospel Reading: the forgiveness of sins. “Believe the good news,” Jesus said. However, he also said, “Repent.” Why, if God is so ready to forgive us, must we repent? What is repentance?
God offers us forgiveness untiringly, but we must accept it. In fact, we must ask for it. (To see this, imagine that your spouse has been unfaithful. Imagine that they come back to you, aware that you know of their adultery, and, without a word, presume that the old relationship is re-established.) (2021)
Sr. Mary McGlone
National Catholic Reporter
Fr. Austin Fleming
A CONCORD PASTOR COMMENTS
A rainbow does appear as a bridge, from here to – there. And that’s what God is promising: that no matter how great the flood, no matter how deep the waters, no matter how sweeping the devastation, we will not be lost in it all – we will be saved. There will be a bridge, there will be a way through and a way over any and all the troubles we face in our lives. There will be a bridge to help us cross, to pass through and to pass over – even to pass over and through death into life..The truth of the story in Genesis is this: that God promises to provide for us what we’re unable to provide for ourselves, that when our lives are flooded with trouble and turmoil the Lord will offer himself as an ark of safe passage, as the rainbow bridge we can cross with confidence – even through death to life. (2015)
Fr. Evans K Chama, M.Afr
Lent opens with Jesus, in the Gospel, withdrawing to the desert for 40 days. Perhaps, it’s a sign that we should also consider making a little trip to the desert. But how can we have desert experience in the midst of our busy lives, in bustling cities? Happily, Lenten season is there to guide us. (2018)
Fr. Chama’s reflection is divided into the following sections:
- But what is so special about the desert
- Desert, place for maturing
- Going back where you began
- Desert, a place of retreat
- Temptations, a way of facing oneself
- But Lent, for what?
Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
DIOCESE OF ST. PETERSBURG
When we modern people think of a rainbow, we think of the colors. The colors were not the focus of the ancient people. Their focus was on the bow itself. They saw the bow as God’s bow and arrows. Remember, many of the ancients thought that storms and lightning were caused by various god’s losing their temper with a human and throwing thunderbolts and lightning at them. The Greeks often depicted Zeus as hurling thunderbolts. In the Noah story, the ancient Hebrews considered God as not throwing thunderbolts, but shooting them with his bow and arrow. But, now, after the flood, God hangs up his bow. He is not going to use it again. He sets his bow in the sky. Think of hitting a nail into the side of a wooden cabin and hanging the bow there. The main point is that God will not give up on man. This is the covenant with Noah and us. God will not give up on us. And we can’t give up on ourselves. That is the real problem… (2021)
Today is the first Sunday of Lent, the 40-day period in which we prepare ourselves mentally and physically for Easter, focusing on prayer, fasting, almsgiving and service to others. Today’s readings invite us to reflect on God’s loving relationship with all of creation… As we embark on this Lenten journey, today’s readings inspire us to be mindful and attuned to all of creation and the ways that we support or harm our fellow creatures. As creator, God shows love and affection for all living things, and we should imitate God in that regard. As Pope Francis reminds us, “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation” (“Laudato Si’,” No. 14). (2021)
Fr. George Smiga
BUILDING ON THE WORD
So there is nothing wrong with deciding to lose a few pounds during Lent. But it would be more central to the gospel to ask, “Who am I estranged from? Who has hurt me? And can I take any steps to reconcile?” because that would be moving the world closer to the peace of God’s kingdom. There is nothing wrong with giving up cigarettes or alcohol for Lent. But it would be better to ask, “What influence could I exert on the structures of our government to protect the unborn, the immigrants, and the poor?” There is nothing wrong with praying more during Lent. But it is more fundamental to the gospel that we ask, “Where do I see injustice? In my family, at my job, among my friends? And how can I take steps to oppose it?” Lent is not about self-improvement. Lent places us in the desert with Jesus, facing off against Satan. So this Lenten season, let us believe in the gospel—the gospel that tells us that the battle has begun and that we are called to do our part to undo the evil of our world. (2018)
Title of Fr. Smiga’s other homilies for this Sunday (located on the same page) are:
- How to Resist Temptation
- Who Is Responsible: God or Us?
- Surviving in the Desert
- When Do the Angels Come?
- Alone with the Devil
Fr. John Kavanaugh, SJ
SUNDAY WEB SITE
Floods strip us of everything, even the land to stand on. We can only wait or go under. If we sink, we suffocate. We disappear. Water is one of those great impersonal forces of the earth, before which we, even in our technological abundance, can find ourselves abandoned and helpless.
And yet water, despite its chaos, is the promise of life. Water is sustenance and cleansing. It is refreshment, purification, and promise. Thus Noah, as the embodiment of Israel, the church and perhaps all humankind, is given a regenerating covenant in the midst of utter loss. “There shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” Later, Isaiah (Is 54) will remind Israel of God’s eternal love and pity—the only anchor in existence for Noah and all of us to depend on. (1997)
At Lent we are given the opportunity and grace for a “forty days’ retreat”; — just like the 40 days of prayer and fasting of our Lord in the desert — and come out of it ready to redirect our lives to the commitments we made at our baptism.
We should remember that conversion is not the 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.
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?
We are bound to repeat history if we have not learned our lessons from it. How can there be social renewal if we deny the need for it? When there is no admission of wrongdoing, then there can be no repentance. How can we be sorry for sins which we do not admit we have ever committed?
The world around us and its attempts to pull us in so many directions that we lose sight of what is most important will still be with long after Lent is over. However, during this time of repentance it would beneficially to us to make an effort to slow down and take time to cherish our friendships and family. There is an old saying, “No one has ever seen a U-haul following a hearse”. Nothing is more important than our relationship with God and our neighbors, who are also made in His image and likeness.
Friendships are always based on common qualities: we are drawn to those of like character. That’s why Christ feeds us with the bread of adversity, so that we can become more like him, so that we will have a greater and more intense friendship with him in eternity. He delights when we call out to him in a spirit of poverty and faith. What he sees is the development of a friend that he will have for all eternity.