Sunday 26 February 2012

First Sunday of Lent - Bring us back to you.

The passages of scripture we are invited to ponder on this first Sunday of 'Holy Lent' are:-
Reading 1 Gn 9:8-15
God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
"See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:
all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth."
God added:
"This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
 of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth,
and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made
between me and you and all living beings,
so that the waters shall never again become a flood
to destroy all mortal beings."
 Responsorial Psalm Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9.

 R. (cf. 10) Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my saviour.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
Good and upright is the LORD,
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and he teaches the humble his way.
Reading 2 1 Pt 3:18-22

Christ suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,
who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
 Gospel Mk 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.
After John had been arrested,
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."

The themes of the first and second readings for today flow into Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan, and the Temptation. If Noah’s covenant with God marks the beginning of a new relationship with God, a new era of revelation, then Mark’s account of the Baptism marks a similar division and horizon.  The signs at Jesus baptism are personal, only known and experienced by him.  These markers are important: 1) The opening up of the heavens, 2) the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus, 3) the appearance of a “dove” (a symbol of Israel, and 4) The heavenly voice.  This personal revelation to Jesus is in keeping with Mark’s keeping of “the Secret” of who Jesus really is. 

Mark’s temptation is rather brief, and has a different purpose than that of Matthew or Luke.  In Mark’s temptation, Jesus is the conqueror over the evil spirit of this age, another expression of the rift in time seen in the “opening up of the heavens.”  Mark’s account of the temptation is not so much a reporting of fact but an insight into the mission of Jesus.

Breaking open the Gospel:
1.       How does Mark reach back to the past and forward to the future to speak about Jesus?
2.       In what ways is Peter na├»ve?
3.       What is meant by the secrecy in Mark?

After breaking open the Word, you might want to pray

This week we pray for a renewal of our lives.
We are beginning to be more attentive and alert.
We are trying new patterns.
The difficulties we encounter keep us humble.

Our desire is clear.
We want the “self-sacrificing love of Christ” -
which brings us mercy and healing - to be “reproduced in our llives.”
In our journey, we seek to savour the meaning of Jesus' self-less love,
that we might reflect that love to others.
At the end of our journey, we will renew our baptismal promises.
Dying with Jesus in baptism, we have a new life in him.
Today, we desire nothing less than God's re-creating us -
breathing new life into us.

Closing Prayer:

Lord God,
you who breathed the spirit of life within me.
Draw out of me the light and life you created.
Help me to find my way back to you.
Help me to use my life to reflect your glory
and to serve others
as your son Jesus did.

May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.

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