First Sunday of Lent
The Scriptures for this first Sunday of Lent present two contrasting situations in which the protagonists are tested while facing life-threatening encounters with the elements.
In the first reading from Genesis – God tasked Noah with saving parts of creation by building a boat when there wasn’t a drop of rain in sight. The vision and faith that he and his family possessed demonstrate faithfulness to God – even though God’s call didn’t seem to make sense…until the waters came and devastation ensued. After the floods, a rainbow came. The perfect mix of light and water, creating a symbol of beauty and covenant with God. This covenant ended the use of natural destruction as punishment for falling away from God.
Natural disasters have added to the challenges of the pandemic over the past year. Floods, typhoons, hurricanes, snowstorms and wildfires, similar to the extreme situations in the readings, have meant either too much or too little water - in various forms. However, unlike the Scripture passages, they are not meant to be tests from God. Instead, they are part of the natural cycle, sometimes enhanced by human means.
In the Gospel, Jesus retreats into the desert for 40 days, where food and water is scarce. But the elements weren’t the challenge – personal temptation was. The details in Mark are sparse, but filled out in the other Gospels. We don’t know much, except that he was tempted by the Devil and angels ministered to him. The time Jesus spent in the desert prepared him for public ministry. His being tempted helped to shape him as a faithful leader, rather than someone who would follow others for the sake of prestige or power.
These periodic times and experiences of testing shape the individual, if they are willing to listen and trust God, even in very difficult situations. During these forty days of Lent, how will you allow yourself to be shaped, in whatever environment you are in, by God, for what comes next?
Sr. Jenn Schaaf, OP