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Back First Sunday of Lent
Friday, February 19, 2021
From the Desk of Fr. Ron…….
Most languages and cultures make use of idiomatic expressions to convey meaning. Many of my international guests experience this when they hear us say: “It’s raining cats and dogs!” Countless times people are running to the windows to witness the spectacle. One group of young people asked one of my young guests: “What do you do to ‘hang out?’” My young guest quickly inspected his clothing wondering what was ‘hanging out of place’ in regard to his attire.
The Bible contains such expressions and terms filled with symbolic significance. The use of the number “40” is just such an example. The Biblical authors often will not use it literally but as a bridge between two periods of time or thought in their writing or another meaning could be: “a perfect amount of time.”
Thus, our first reading this weekend is from the book of Genesis and the ending of the story of Noah and the Ark. You recall that in the story, “for forty days and forty nights heavy rain poured down on the earth.” (Genesis 7:12). It is at the end of this period of destruction and rebirth that God makes a “covenant” or sacred agreement with Noah and his family. In the very brief passage from the Gospel of Mark, the author indicates that Jesus remained in the desert for forty days.
As we begin the holy season of Lent, our Church challenges us to a spiritual journey of forty days and forty nights as well. Sundays were always a day to celebrate the Resurrection. Not counting Sundays, we count forty days from Ash Wednesday until Holy Saturday. After Easter Sunday we will count forty days of celebration until Ascension Thursday. While our spiritual journey needs to be constant, this designated time offers us a time to focus upon the main message of the Gospel of Jesus. “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel” Mark 1:15.
To “repent,” meaning to acknowledge one’s sins and shortcomings. To turn from sinful behaviors and actions. It also means to be open to alternative ways of thinking. The Gospel that we are challenged to believe in is an example of that alternative way of thinking. Not only does God wish a relationship with His chosen people but also with all the people of the world. Not only does God wish a relationship with His people as a group or society but wishes a personal relationship with each one of us. These were radical thoughts and suggestions at the time of Jesus. This is the “Good News” that Jesus came to share.
May we take seriously this Lenten Journey that is before us. May we take the opportunities presented to us to refocus our lives on the truths of the Gospel of Jesus, repent and truly believe the Good News!