HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B (7)







HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B

HOMILY THEME: A NEW BEGINNING

BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa

 

HOMILY:

The first three words of the Bible are: “ In the beginning…” (Genesis 1:1). Signs of a new beginning are all around us and they include the sun rising anew in the morning; the caterpillar, which enters its cocoon and turns out to be a beautiful butterfly; the planted seed, which dies in the ground and brings out a new plant; the baby coming out of the womb or the a new bird coming out of an egg.

The covenant (agreement) between God and Noah also marked a new beginning in the Creator’s relationship with his creatures. Not long after creating man, God was utterly disappointed at the rate of evil, violence, envy, hatred and wickedness. And so, in the days of Noah he sent flood to cleanse the earth. The catastrophic flood could have been the end of the world, but God gave the world and all its inhabitants a second chance by establishing a covenant with Noah, his descendants and with every living creature. He gave them the assurance that never again will there be a flood of that magnitude (which destroys all mortal beings). In this covenant, God set the rainbow as a symbol of his promise. The covenant was significant as it was not just limited to a specific person, Noah, or restricted to a particular people, Israel, rather it was with every living creature. This covenant offered a new beginning and gave all living things an assurance and hope of a good future.

The covenant came at the end of the destructive flood and this was to show that every end ushers in a new beginning. The end of every milestone in our lives is the beginning of a new milestone; the end of every war and break-up, marks the beginning of a peace process – reconciliation, rehabilitation, reconstruction; likewise, the end of formal school education marks a new beginning and a new chapter in our lives. In fact, even the end of physical life is a new beginning of a glorious life. Very often we are afraid of the end because we do not know how and where to start a new beginning. Sometimes, we fear the end of school because we do not know what the employment market holds for us; we are afraid of retirement because we do not know what a post-retirement life will look like; we tend to forget that a new chapter in life commences only after the end of the previous chapter. The end often appears to be dark, but the new morning of a new beginning comes soon after. God is always in the beginning (alpha) and at the end (omega) of every event in our lives.

The prophet Isaiah tells us about how God continues to do “A new thing” (Isaiah 43:19). In the book of Revelation, He declares, “Behold, I make all things new (Revelation 21:5). Long after the covenant with Noah, God began another new covenant through Christ, the “Mediator of the new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15). Christ launched a new beginning in the history of salvation, calling people to repentance and offering the Good News (Mark 1:14-15). He gave water a new meaning, as water was no longer a sign of destruction, as in the days of Noah, but a symbol of salvation. Jesus ushered in a new era where God will no longer use flood to cleanse the earth, but the waters of baptism. According to the Apostle Paul, the waters of the flood predicted the waters of baptism (1 Peter 3:21). It is the spring of water gushing up to eternal life (John 4:14).

Baptism marks a new beginning in our spiritual journey. The season of Lent is a season of new beginning. We have already broken some promises we made for the New Year. We made mistakes in our decisions, in our choices, in words and expressions and in certain actions we executed. During his ministry on earth, Jesus met many people who made grievous mistakes in the past and He gave them hope for a new beginning.

We are on the threshold of a new beginning and the season of Lent offers us a second chance. It is a season of grace and a time to respond to Jesus invitation for repentance. Repentance is a new beginning and so St. Augustine says, “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” We have an opportunity to start anew and we should not be afraid of taking the first step. A new beginning implies having a new mind, a new heart and a new spirit. We can embrace each day as a new beginning, because “God’s mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23).
———————————————————— First Sunday of Lent; Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15

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