First Sunday of Lent
February 22, 2015 – Year B
Readings: Gn 9:8-15; Psalm 25; 1 Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
I would like to thank all of you for praying for me while I traveled back from the Philippines. It’s quite a change from 90-degree temperature all the time to 8 degrees with snow. 99 percent of my relatives & friends in my hometown have never seen, much less touched, snow. So when they heard there was a snowstorm here, they asked me to try to explain snowflakes and snow formation. I tried, but it’s like explaining to a child who has never tasted ice cream what it tastes like. It’s an exercise in futility, just like trying to explain snow. If you Google it, about half of the world’s population has never seen snow.
I’d like to thank Deacon Eddie for picking me up from my house for this Mass. I thought I would try to drive my car because it was a little warmer. Well, my car didn’t make it because the tires are not designed for snow. So I called Deacon Eddie. He drives all-wheel drive.
Today during the season of Lent, we are reminded by Holy Mother Church to make use of all the spiritual exercises and all the materials given to us by our Lord God so we can navigate this life as if we are driving an all-wheel drive in all kinds of conditions.
For those of you who always drive an all-wheel drive car, maybe you don’t notice, but for those of you whose tires are like mine, our cars tell us if it snows or sleets, just stay home and eat chicken soup. Forget about going out. That’s why we take it for granted.
For those of us who are spiritually mature, for those of us who are always praying on a regular basis, for those of us who are always reading God’s living words, maybe we take it for granted that we have brothers & sisters who cannot understand why we are here this morning to listen to God’s words, to receive our Lord’s body, blood, soul & divinity in Holy Communion. They may not be able to completely understand our spiritual life. It is just like explaining snow to people who have never seen snow all their lives.
But we ask the help of the Holy Spirit. For those of us who pray the Liturgy of the Hours, every other Sunday we pray: “Ice and Snow, bless the Lord! Praise and exalt him above all forever!” This is from Daniel, chapter 3, and is being prayed by all Catholic priests and nuns throughout the world. I prayed this for years and years before I had ever seen snow. Now it has even more meaning for me. Every Friday throughout the year, when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we also pray Psalm 51. Every Friday we pray, “Purify me, O God, that I shall be clean. O wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
We are indeed so blessed because unlike our brothers and sisters in tropical countries, we have the privilege to be surrounded by the snow which is described in the sacred Scriptures. During the season of Lent, we will be listening to God’s words telling us that our God is a forgiving God.
In chapter 1 of the book of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord God said, “Let us set things right. Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.” In today’s second reading which is taken from the first letter of Peter, the apostle said that those few people who were saved in Noah’s ark prefigured baptism which saves us now. And by the sanctifying grace we receive in the sacrament, we indeed are saved from spiritual death. But according to St. Paul, in spite of this, we are still human beings. We are flesh and blood. We are weak and we fall into sin, but the good news is that we have a good, loving and merciful God who is always inviting us to repent and come back to him.
This is the theme of our reflection during the 40-day season of Lent. During the offertory, we will sing from the book of the prophet Hosea and the prophet Joel, for the Lord God is inviting us to “come back to me with all your heart. Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life.”