Theme:FROM THE WATERS OF DESTRUCTION TO LIFE The second reading reminds us that Jesus is victorious against any form of rebellion against God. According to the Genesis story, humanity was wiped out in Noah’s time because of its sinfulness, but the waters that destroyed all other people saved Noah and his family. For the author of I Pt, this prefigures the waters of Baptism whereby people are reborn.
First Reading:Genesis 9:8-15;
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25;
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22;
*The Sunday Missal, Paulines Publications Africa
*Painting: Poster No. 53, Pentecost – by S. Ajak Bullen
From Christ to Noah and Back to Christ!
The aim of 1Peter was to exhort the readers and testify to the faith (I Pt 5: 12). Was losing their faith a real possibility because of some form of persecution or was it also part of the imagery? The Book of Revelation, written during the persecution of the Roman Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD), mentions the question of Emperor worship. There is none of this in I Peter. Due to these and other arguments, many would situate I Peter between 70 and 90 AD.
The author of I Pt exhorts his readers not to run away from suffering, probably at the hands of the local rulers for any reason, but rather to turn it into an occasion to bear witness (I Pt 3 :9-17). This would be their way of putting to shame those who make them suffer and also to show that they have already overcome the suffering. Christ himself, righteous though he was, suffered for the unrighteous (1 Pt 3:18). He overcame evil of all kinds, including the evil of the rebellious spirits that collaborate in spreading further disobedience among people. From their rebellion against God, it is believed that they were held prisoners. After rising from the dead, Jesus proclaimed to these rebellious spirits that the victory of God, in and through him, is complete (1 Pt 3: 18) and that this victory is also for all who believe in him.
The author of I Pt links this victory of Jesus to Noah’s time. In story form, the writer of Genesis shows how human mischief was so excessive that God had no other choice than to wipe humanity off the face of the earth (Gn 6:5-8.11). How-ever, he saved Noah and his wife and their three sons and their wives because of Noah’s righteousness (Gn 6:8-10; 7:7) with whom he later made a new covenant (Gn 8:15-9:17).
The fact that the same waters saved Noah and his family, I Peter sees it as pre-figuring Baptism in which people are saved from their sins, their rebellion against God, and re-establishes the relationship with God. In it they are associated with the death and Resurrection of the victorious Jesus Christ the Lord (1 Pt 4:2).
Lent is a time of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. However, there is an inner rebellion that we each have to overcome in order to share more fully in the victory Christ has obtained for us through his own suffering.
"God’s covenant with Noah, delivered from the waters of the flood."
A reading from the Book of Genesis
God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”
The word of the Lord.
R:All your paths, O Lord, are mercy and faithfulness, for those who keep your covenant.O Lord, make me know your ways. Teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth, and teach me; for you are the God of my salvation.
R:All your paths, O Lord, are mercy and faithfulness, for those who keep your covenant.Remember your compassion, O Lord, and your merciful love, for they are from of old. In your merciful love remember me, because of your goodness, O Lord.
R: All your paths, O Lord, are mercy and faithfulness, for those who keep your covenant.Good and upright is the Lord; he shows the way to sinners. He guides the humble in right judgement; to the humble he teaches his way
R: All your paths, O Lord, are mercy and faithfulness,
for those who keep your covenant.
1 Peter 3:18-22
“Baptism now saves you.”
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Peter
Beloved: Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
The word of the Lord.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
“He was tempted by Satan, and the angels ministered to him.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
At that time: The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B
*Adapted from: “God’s Word for Christian Communities, Second Readings of Sundays”, by Richard Baawobr M.Afr — Paulines Publications Africa, 2009.