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A CALL FOR THE RENEWAL OF OUR COVENANT WITH GOD

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Today, being the first Sunday of Lent in Year B, the central theme of our reflection resonates through the three readings: the triumph over a world dominated by sin and the dawn of a new era of grace. It is a call for the renewal of our covenant with God.

The Great Flood: A Symbol of Spiritual Renewal and Cleansing

In the first reading, due to the atrocities perpetrated by humanity in the past, God wiped out everything on the surface of the earth with a great flood (baptismal cleansing). But Noah and his family were saved by the Ark for 40 days (a desert experience—a period of prayer, penance, and mortification) because of their fidelity to God. Subsequently, God established a covenant with Noah and promised not to destroy the earth with floods again. Moreover, the great flood was a divine act that cleansed the earth of its iniquities and set the stage for the emergence of a renewed humanity.

Christ’s Desert Experience: The Yardstick for Spiritual Renewal

Similarly, in the Gospel, Jesus Christ went into a desert experience (moment of prayer, penance, and mortification) for 40 days, with many temptations, in order to prepare for His ministry (Salus animarum – Salvation of Souls). Consequently, this spiritual experience reveals to us the beginning of sin’s defeat through Jesus Christ, who, as the new Adam, overcame evil. It is a call for renewal of our covenant with God. To join in the birth of new and redeemed people by walking in Christ’s footsteps.

Furthermore, during this Lenten period of 40 days, in spite of all temptations, we should prepare ourselves for the renewal of our covenant with God during Easter through prayer, penance, mortification, and charity, which are ways of assessing and reviving our fidelity to God (1 Chronicles 7:14). This will enable us to experience true renewal and the transformative power of the love of God.

Baptism: A Symbol of Renewal and Spiritual Rebirth

The second reading builds upon this motif, drawing a parallel between the cleansing waters of the flood and the waters of baptism. This is a holy sacrament that signifies renewal and transformation into a new creation (Romans 6:4). St. Peter, in this apostolic exhortation, reminds us that, by the death and resurrection of Christ, a new covenant is being given to us through our baptism—a spiritual rebirth (2 Corinthians 5:17).

My dearly beloved, even if you have made a terrible mistake and committed atrocious and abominable acts in your life, do not be afraid or discouraged. Just have faith and trust in Jesus Christ; He will cleanse you and make you whole again. Thus says the LORD, “I am the God who forgives your sins, and I do this because of who I am. I will not hold your sins against you” (Isaiah 43:25). “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the just but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).

Reflective Questions for the Renewal of Our Covenant with God

My lovely friend, let us reflect on these thought-provoking questions below:

  1. How do you intend to participate in these spiritual exercises of Lent for your spiritual growth and renewal?
  2. Are you ready to frequent the sacrament of reconciliation (confession), intensify your prayer life, and always be patient with the Almighty God?
  3. Are you ready to mortify your flesh so that your spirit will become active?
  4. Can you selflessly sacrifice your talents, resources, time, and energy for the sake of the less privileges?
  5. Have you resolved to forgive those who hurt you and refrain from gossip that tends to tarnish their image? Instead, gossip about God and the saints in Heaven, that is, discussing and sharing about spiritual or biblical matters. 
  6. Are you ready to promote the good works of others instead of sabotaging or damaging their reputation in their absence? Remember, this is akin to character assassination, which has serious consequences.
  7. Have you resolved not to betray the trust people have in you or cheat people because of sordid gains?

Finally, we are called to renew our covenant with God. This call to renewal cannot be achieved without the help of the Holy Spirit. With His divine assistance, we can journey with Jesus Christ in the desert during this period of Lent through fervent prayer, fasting, and charity work. These spiritual exercises will help us renew our covenant with God.

Prayer:

May the Holy Spirit help us to renew our covenant with God in order to save our souls from eternal damnation. May He make us worthy to partake in the glorious celebration of Easter in this physical world (earth) as well as in the spiritual world (Heaven), through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Benjamin Okala, C.S.Sp.

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