We began this season of repentance on Wednesday and it will last until Easter. As we begin our Lenten Journey we should remind ourselves what Lent is all about. From the vestment of the priest and the liturgical colors we can get the sense that this is a season like Advent. The music is also different during this season and we omit several things from the liturgy as well. The season is marked with fasting, abstinence and almsgiving. Many individuals give up something, like chocolate or soda during the season as well. The forty days are symbolic of the forty years that the people of Israel wandered in the desert and match the forty days that Jesus was in the desert.
In our readings over the next several weeks we will be hearing bits and pieces of salvation history. We begin in the first book of the Bible, Genesis with Noah and his boat. The Lord says to Noah I am establishing a covenant with you that I, the Lord never again will flood the earth and destroy everything; the rainbow is a reminder to both parties of the covenant. Noah’s story reminds us that we need to have some concerns about the environment to follow this covenant.
Turning to the Epistle we hear from the first letter of Peter. It is debatable if it was written by Peter or a secretary of Peter or by someone in Peter’s name. This is one of the seven letters which have a general audience and are not focused on a single region or individual. Peter writes that Christ suffered for sin and was put to death in the flesh but he rose in the Spirit. Then the subject turns to the Noah and the flood saying that the Lord saved eight people from the flood and this prefigures baptism where we are saved in the water. Peter then reflects on baptism saying that “it is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to the Lord for a clean conscience” I think that this gets lost in the celebration of the sacrament, as often times it is infants getting baptized.
As we reach the Gospel we turn back in Mark’s gospel to the time after the Baptism of Jesus when he went out into the desert where for forty days he was tempted but Satan and was among wild beasts. Some times we all need to take a break from society and take some time for solitude However right after these forty days are over we hear that John was arrested and Jesus takes us John’s message and Jesus goes out into the world proclaiming “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” During the season of Lent we need to take this message in our hearts and reflect upon it, perhaps going to confession and reading from the Bible for like five minutes a day.