Homily First Sunday of Lent Year B Our covenant

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Homily: First Sunday of Lent Year B 

Reading 1: A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and man. It is unbroken, unlike a contract. God, in his loving mercy, desires us to have a relationship with him, so he created us in his own image and likeness, sharing his own divine life with us. We sinned and God promised a Savior. But sin became so widespread and grievous that God flooded the earth. Only Noah and his family believed in God and trusted in God. They were saved.

God again renewed his love for man and his desire that his creation should share in his glory. He made a covenant with Noah. The sign of the covenant was the rainbow, beautiful and refreshing in its appearance. There was a progression of covenants from that time till Jesus.  After Noah, God made a covenant with Abraham and renewed it with Isaac and Jacob and their descendants.  The sign of this covenant was circumcision.

God made a covenant with Moses and the Israelites, who became his chosen people. The sign of the was the Ten Commandments. Again and again, human beings broke their covenant.  From Isaiah on not only did the prophets called the people back but forewarned them of the consequences that will occur from not heeding the word of the Lord. Through the prophets, Cod said that he would establish a final covenant with humanity.

That covenant was sealed by the blood of the Son of God on the cross. During Lent we are called to remember our covenant with God and to recommit ourselves to that covenant. What has been our response to God’s covenant with us?  Our focus for Lent is a journey to the Pascal mystery, which we will celebrate on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Gospel: What should be our response to the marvelous work of love God has shown us? Noah offered God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Abraham believed in the promises of God even though many trials and difficulties. He remained faithful and obedient to God.

But we are reminded what breaks the covenant from our part. It is sin, which is love of self, rather than love of God. Repenting and turning away from sin is only the initial step. Jesus said to believe in the Gospel. We are called to embrace the plan of God revealed to us in his sacred word of salvation.  This involves a deeper, personal commitment of our lives to hearing the word of God with an open heart. Then we are called to act on that world, so that our following of Jesus may be more complete.

Lent is a time of purification and transformation: purification from sin and transformation in holiness. We are called to share with others God’s saving love.

Reading 2: There is an obvious connection with the first reading. As Noah was saved through the waters by living in the ark, so we are saved by Jesus’ death and resurrection. WE experience this salvation through the ark of the Church in the saving waters of baptism. Regular water washes away external dirt. The sacred waters of baptism cleansed us from the effects of the sin of Adam, Original sin, and any personal sins we may have committed.

We came into the world alienated from God. Baptism brought us back to the relationship of sons and daughters, members of the Body of Christ. In the waters of baptism God made his covenant with us, again sharing his divine life with us. We did nothing to deserve this. God was at work in us.

What is our response to God’s saving work in baptism? To live a life of righteousness as we await the full redemption and salvation, when we will be with God forever in glory. 

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