1st Sunday of Lent (B)


1st. SUNDAY OF LENT (B) Mark 1:12-15 - February 18, 2018

This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel

You might have heard this story, A ship is bonded for the coast, but a thick fog interferes with the radar of the vessel; the radar identifies it as if another ship is on its way. Then the ship captain sends the following message, “Chance your direction 10 degrees.”

The captain receives an immediate answer from the “other ship”, “You should change your direction 10 degrees.”

The upset captain insists, “You better change your direction, I am the Commander of the French Navy.”

From the other side somebody answers, “”I am an obedient employee. What I tell you is, change your direction.”

The captain gets very angry and replies, “You must change your direction because this is a warship and I am not responsible for what could happen to you and your ship.”

Immediately the answer comes from the other side, “Even if you are a warship, I advice you to change your direction, this is not a ship, this is a lighthouse and you are about to crash.

When “Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: ´This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” what he meant for us was to change the direction of our life. When we try to find the way and objective of life in pleasure, power and material things, if we do not change our direction, we are about to crash and ruin God´s plan for us. But we can choose life instead of self-destruction. Jesus is the lighthouse as he shows us that we need to change because this is the time of fulfillment.

Today we have the story of the flood and Noah´s ark and this calls to our minds the sinking of big ships in world history, Titanic, Concordia, and others, and that is scary, but Noah´s ark has a wonderful end; the beautiful rainbow is the symbol of God´s promise. He makes his promise to respect all creation, as we Franciscans proclaim; but it is not new; God-creator himself respects the whole of creation more than we ever could.

Saint Peter says that the water of the great flood that covered the world prefigured our baptism. In the baptismal water we die as sinners, in this way we rise to a new life in Christ. In baptism we are washed free from our sins. In Lent we renew our baptism which is our initial sharing in the Paschal Mystery of Christ.

We have started Lent and now we think about praying, fasting, sharing, and doing penance. In the Gospel we hear about “Jesus remained in the desert for forty days and tempted by Satan.” When he went to the desert he was tested by experiencing all kinds of temptations. The wild beasts are the symbols of evil and like Satan they are instruments of temptation. He passed the test and was ready for his greatest test of all, his passion and death on the Cross. His forty days of test are the symbol to the forty years of God´s Chosen People in the desert. This “forty” days also symbolize our earthly journey of test and temptation.

When we have to go to the process of being tested academically, physically, spiritually, or any other kind, we are nervous, because all testing involves pain. We undergo spiritual suffering when there are times of doubt and darkness; we think that God is far away, that he does not listen to us. We find it hard to pray and go to the sacraments. This Lent is the liturgical season of the year which helps us to be strong in faith, especially trough prayer, reading the Word of God, and making a good confession. In this way we will be prepared for the final testing of life.

We have to be realistic and realize that sufferings and difficulties are part of regular life, they are part of our pilgrimage of faith; we should endure them with a Christian spirit and know that Jesus is showing us the true direction. Physical exercise sometimes is painful but makes us strong and healthy. In a spiritual way suffering and trial purify us, and as a test, make us strong and confident. This reminds me a prayer a very dear Irish friend priest once gave me, and I pray every day, “Lord, help me to member that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I together cannot handle.”

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