First Sunday of Lent

Gen 9:8-15; 1 Pet 3:18-15; Mk 1:12-15 (Year B)

The Genesis account of the covenant with Noah marked a new beginning for sinful humanity. The harmony of creation, symbolised by the Garden of Eden, had been fractured by original sin. From that point onwards humanity’s relationship with God and the environment had descended into chaos. The man was estranged from the woman, brother murdered brother and the nations were divided. Creation’s harmony was disintegrating. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that the thoughts of his heart fashioned nothing but wickedness all day long.”

Ash Wednesday called us to repentance. Repentance is rarely immediate. It is rooted in a prayerful reflection on our lives and an honest acknowledgment of what sin has made us. It is the space in which we acknowledge the chaos that sin brings to our lives. We confess that our relationships with God and each other have been undermined.

The covenant with Noah puts our Lenten penance within a hopeful context: “See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants, also with every living creature. No thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters.”

Noah’s very existence had been threatened by the Flood. When we sin we begin to sink into a different kind of chaos. Noah’s deliverance prefigured the deliverance promised in Christ to every repentant sinner. As Noah was delivered from the deluge, so are we brought to salvation through the waters of baptism. “Christ himself, innocent though he was, died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God.”

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