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Homily for first Sunday of Lent B

16 Feb 2018, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Our first reading reminds us of God’s covenant with Noah; it is a covenant we cannot talk about without the story of creation, the fall, and the destruction of man. God created man in his image and likeness and blessed him with everything, but man disobeyed God and fell out of grace. The Lord saw that man’s wickedness was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… so the Lord said, I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground… Gen. 6:5-7. By the waters of the flood, God destroyed the whole world, but Noah and his household were saved. God made a covenant with Noah that he will never again destroy the world by water.

In the second reading, we hear St. Peter talk about Noah and the ark he built. He acknowledged that God saved Noah and his household and small other groups of animals by that ark. When that rain that caused destruction started, the ark was lifted by the flood. The water that killed others lifted the ark, and while others were under the water, Noah and those in the ark floated on the surface of the water. What killed others could not kill Noah and his household because Noah listened to the word of God and followed his directions. Talking about the water that lifted Noah, St. Peter says; that water is a type of baptism which saves us now, and which is not the washing off of physical dirt but a pledge made to God from a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ… Jesus had to pass through this waters of baptism as an example for us. His baptism was glorious, the Father’s voice was heard, and the Holy Spirit was seen coming down on him in the form of a dove. The glory of his baptism was immediately followed by 40 days of fasting and then the temptation. The baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of his public appearance, the beginning of his public ministry, and the devil wanted to nip him at the bud. The devil tried to stop him from carrying out his mission; kneel and worship me and I will give you the whole world, the devil said to Jesus, but Jesus insisted that he will not worship him, yet he will possess the whole world from the cross.

Today is the first Sunday of Lent, it is a beginning of a journey of about four weeks, and it is the beginning of a journey to total repentance. The devil will surely try to nip us at the bud; the devil will try to stop us from fulfilling our mission, our destiny. The devil will use things around us to tempt us, to discourage us from observing the Lenten season properly. But like the master Jesus, let us confront the devil this season with the word of God. When the devil tried to make Jesus turn stones into bread, Jesus said it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). It is by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God that we conquer. Even when the devil tried him the second and third time, Jesus insisted that “it is written.”

In this first Sunday of Lent, let us tell the devil that “it is written” and that we will hold on to the word of God. The word of God is alive and active; the word of God can transform us into what God wants us to be. Even if you have fallen many times and feel so weak at the moment, still tell the devil that it is written that dry bones will rise again (Ezekiel 37). Tell the devil that it is written that he who repents will be saved. So, let us at this season of Lent hold on to the word of God and rise again above our weaknesses.