THEME: LENT – A SEASON OF RENEWAL
READINGS: Genesis 9:8-15 / 1 Peter 3:18-22 / Mark 1:12-15
1st Sunday of Lent
Lent is a period of forty (40) days of spiritual preparation for the commemoration of our Lord Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection at Easter. The mystery of our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection renews our covenant relationship with God. Therefore, in the season of Lent, the Church urges us to take advantage of God’s grace to get our covenant relationship renewed.
In this homily we will reflect on the following three (3) points:
- A covenant as a solemn contract initiated by God
- Renewal of God’s covenant relationship
- Some steps to take to respond to God’s invitation to covenant renewal
A COVENANT AS A SOLEMN CONTRACT INITIATED BY GOD
House rent agreements, drivers’ licenses, car roadworthy certificates, passports, property insurances, etc. are examples of contracts. They have expiry dates and they have to be renewed to extend their lifecycles, validity or usefulness. However, their validity may also be terminated or lost when the terms of the contracts are breached by a party (holder).
Now, God relates with us through a covenant, which is a solemn contract initiated by Him. On the one hand, unlike a normal contract, God’s covenant relationship does not expire based on time, as He, being eternal and unchangeable intends it to be forever. On the other hand, the covenant relationship terminates if we breach its terms by sinning. For instance, in the time of Noah, the great sins of humanity terminated the relationship with God, and it suffered the punishment of the great flood (Gen. 6:5-7, 17).
RENEWAL OF GOD’S COVENANT RELATIONSHIP
In today’s first reading, God renews His covenant relationship with the whole of creation after the end of the great flood (Gen. 9:8-15). Now, how many of us will be willing to renew our contract with persons who seriously breach its terms? Probably, a few good-hearted ones among us will do so. More so, God willingly renewed His covenant relationship with us. Thus, through Abraham and Moses, God renewed His covenant with us after we have sinned against Him.
Now, how many of us will renew our contract by making a better offer to someone who has seriously breached the terms of the initial contract? I guess, none of us will do that. God, however, gives us a better offer – life forever with Him in the glory of heaven – after we had breached the terms of the initial covenant relationship.
Moreover, how many of us in renewing a breached contract will decide to pay the high cost of the damages caused by our partner? Only God does this, and He paid the price that no human being nor the whole humanity together can pay! His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, paid with His precious life. Thus, according to today’s second reading: “Christ died for [our] sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). St. Paul puts it in a more vivid way: “for our sake He [God] made Him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
SOME STEPS TO TAKE TO RESPOND TO GOD’S INVITATION TO COVENANT RENEWAL
Unfortunately, beloved, we continue to sin – we continue to break our covenant relationship with God. This notwithstanding, God eagerly invites us to the renewal of His covenant relationship with us. Thus, according to today’s gospel reading, God invites us to renewal through His Son who proclaims to us: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). In this proclamation of Christ, we find four (4) steps we can take to respond to God’s invitation to covenant renewal with Him:
- The time is fulfilled: there is urgency in responding to the invitation to renewal. Those who procrastinated in the time of Noah, lost their opportunity to renew their relationship with God. So beloved, today and not tomorrow, indeed now and not later, is time for our decision to ask God to renew His covenant relationship with us.
- Kingdom of God: the better offer or promise of eternal life in God’s kingdom should be an added motivation for us to seek the renewal now and not later.
- Repent: we must detest our sins because they have cost the life of God’s only Son, and we must return with our whole heart, mind, body and soul to God.
- Believe in the Gospel: have a strong conviction in the ineffable love and inexhaustible mercy of God whose Son has offered the one perfect sacrifice for our sins, and whose Spirit gives us and sustains the grace of covenant renewal.
Beloved, may the loving and merciful God, whose Son’s sacrifice affords us the opportunity of a covenant renewal, send us the grace of His Spirit so that we can take the steps of renewal now and not later, be motivated by the promise of His glorious kingdom, sincerely repent of our sins, and forever believe in the Holy Trinity. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis