Homily for the first Sunday of Lent B

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 would 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. Noah entered an ark made by his hand and he was saved by God’s power, but in our time God made himself the ark in Christ Jesus.

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 these 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, and the beginning of his public ministry, and the devil wanted to nip him in 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 the 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 in 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.”

Let us therefore be courageous enough to 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 countless times and feel weakened, don’t give in, insist on what is written, that the dry bones will rise again (Ezekiel 37), that it is written that he who repents will be saved.

So, let us in this season of Lent rise again, above our weaknesses.

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as a pastor in two different parishes, he was a one-time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *