Detailed homily for the 1st Sunday of Lent Year B
Theme: GIVE ME YOUR SINS
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday February 21 2021
R1 – Gen 9:8-15
RESP PS – Ps 25:2-6,7b -9
R2 – 1Pt 3:18-22
GOSPEL – Mk 1:12-15
Saint Jerome, the brilliant doctor of the Church, who lived for twenty-five years in the cave where the Child Jesus was born, once prayed thus to Jesus: “Dear Jesus, you have suffered much to save me; how can I make amends?” “What can you give me, Jerome?” a Voice was heard. “I will spend my entire life in prayer, and I will offer all my talents into Your hands,” Jerome replied. “You do that to glorify Me, but what more can you give to Me?” the Voice asked again. “I will give all my money to the poor,” Jerome exclaimed. The Voice said: “Give your money to the poor; it would be just as if you were giving it to Me. But what else can you give to Me?” Saint Jerome became distraught and said: “Lord, I have given You everything! What is there left to give?” “Jerome, you have not yet given Me your sins,” the Lord replied. “Give them to Me so I can erase them.” With these words Jerome burst into tears and spoke, “Dear Jesus, take all that is mine and give me all that is Yours.”
Beloved in Christ, today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is the season, God invites us through the Holy Mother Church, to give him all our sins like he told St Jerome in the introit story. We can only respond to this sundry call by hastening and advancing the journey to repentance, entering a covenantal pact with God, reordering our priorities, and then changing their values, ideals, and ambitions through fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and self-control as admonished by the entire readings of today’s liturgy.
In the first reading, we see how humanity, irremediably broke the original covenant established between God and our first parents, Adam and Eve, and equally describes God’s unfathomable love and mercy which preserved Noah and his family to renew this covenant. Noah’s rescue from the flood symbolizes how we are saved through the water of Baptism which cleanses us of sin and makes us one with Christ.
St Peter, in the second reading, shows us how Noah’s episode prefigured Baptism, thereby, reminding us of the purifying and cleansing capacity of the waters of baptism which signifies a rebirth and establishment of a new covenant.
Furthermore, in the Gospel reading, Jesus, having defeated His tempter, started preaching his Messianic mission: “The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Believe in the Gospel.”
*THE LENTEN JOURNEY OF REPENTANCE AND RENEWAL*
The Lenten season is a period of intense spiritual preparations for the passion and resurrection of Christ; when all Christians undertake a 40 day journey of renewal and repentance.
In biblical numerology, ‘Forty’ is a number often associated with intense spiritual experiences as we see in the following biblical instances:
(i) God caused it to rain for forty days and forty nights to cleanse the earth (Gen. 7:12).
(ii) The Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years.
(iii) Moses spent forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:28).
(iv) Elijah journeyed forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb (1Kgs 19:8).
(v) Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness (Lk 4:2).
Such spiritual exercises are imbued in the contextual and climatic underpinnings of Lent.
The English word ‘Lent’ is a shortened form of the Old English word “lencten” and Latin “Lentire” meaning “spring season”,
Spring (springtime), is one of the four temperate seasons, succeeding winter and preceding summer.
Spring “springtime,” refer to the season of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth.
However, prior to spring time is the Winter Season which is characterized by the following:
(i) The cold and freezing climatic conditions make the temperature to become very harsh for plants and animals to adapt (This practically represents the moment of temptation in our Christian life, when the going gets tough and harsh).
(ii) This results in the deadening of plants, thereby, causing lack of vitality in the plants and trees. The beautiful green flowers and economic trees shed off their leaves and pollens (This is when the moral conscience is deadened and disfigured by sin, then we share off our Christian values and principles).
(iii) Most plants and trees become less fruitful and productivity is stiffled (At this stage, the child of God, stops bearing fruits of the kingdom, viz: Hope, Faith and Love).
(iv) Some animals migrate and depart their natural habitats in search of greener pastures (When we walk away from God, seeking solutions and consolations outside God).
Nevertheless, at Springtime, (lenten season when God invites us to give him our sins), little springs of water rain upon the earth, softens the soil again, making the atmospheric and climatic space warmth and conducive again for plants and animals.
At this point, the plants and trees that had shed their leaves begin to recover them again, thereby, spuring the flowers to bud and blossom with green-ness and bearing fruits again. Finally all the animals that had migrated in search of warmth and greener pastures will begin to come home to their natural habitats.
Contextually, at Lent, God invites us to give Him our sins in a 40 day journey of repentance and renewal. Christ who is the living spring softens our deadened hearts and conscience, which enables us to begin to bear fruits of the kingdom and at this point, we Christians are expected to begin to trace our steps back home, like the strayed animals who migrate during winter for warmth and greener pastures, back to our places of habitat, in the Lord where our souls find rest (Ps 42:1).
*(1) BEGIN THE LENTEN JOURNEY WITH A COVENANT*
The journey to repentance requires a covenantal pact. Take a decision today to reject evil and promise God you will yield to the dictates and promptings of this covenant. Abraham, Noah and Moses wouldn’t have sustained God’s relationship without entering into a covenant on what to do and what not to do.
*(2) ADVANCE THE LENTEN CAMPAIGN BY CONQUERING THE TEMPTER*
Let us conquer our tempter as Jesus did, adopting the methods Jesus implored. Every decision to live for God and reject evil is followed by temptations to stifle and foil the covenantal pact. In the Gospel reading, Jesus conquered his tempter, the devil through prayer, penance, and timely use of the word of God.
*(3) PERFECT THE CAMPAIGN BY WAGING WAR AGAINST EVIL*
Let us use Lent to fight daily against the evil within us and around us by practicing self-control. Like Noah, says Bishop G. Onah, let us choose to remain good when others around us have become bad. You too can become an exception and God will use you to renew our families, homes, communities and nation.
Finally, an old pagan great- grandfather of 86, Dee Timothy, who yielded to the pressure of family and his parish priest to accept Christ, created a funny scene at his baptism. When he was asked by the priest, “Dee Timothy, have you rejected satan?” he paused for a while, and had a notorious gaze at the priest, his wife and children, who came happily to celebrate their father’s conversion. The priest who was almost losing his patience, called him out again, “Dee Timothy, have you rejected satan?” He started laughing and pointing to his wife and children, said, “Fada, why would you want me to reject my wife, the main devil in my life and my children, the little imps in my life at my old age. Infact, they are the devils I see everyday… Do you still want me to reject them? They are the devils I, Dee Timothy know.” The whole atmosphere was inundated with laughter.
But remember, beloved in Christ, Dee Timothy has a point here. The devil tempts you with those around you. Take a decision today and surrender your sins to God inorder to advance and perfect the Lenten campaign.
MAY THE HOLY SPIRIT EMPOWER US TO ACCOMPLISH OUR LENTEN CAMPAIGNS BY LEADING A LIFE OF PRAYER, FASTING AND ALMSGIVING. AMEN.
_*GOD BLESS YOU!*_
_FR GERALD MUOKA_