First Sunday of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
Often times, God (at least the Old Testament God) is displayed as a vengeful being, ready to unleash His wrath upon those who have sinned. And sometimes in the Bible, this definitely seems to be the case. But in today’s readings, we witness the merciful side of God our Father, in which he makes a covenant with Noah and his family that He will never again ravage the earth or its inhabitants with flooding. And this concept of a covenant is found in the second reading as well, this time in the form of baptism – through the purifying waters of baptism, a covenant is made between us and God, to wash away our sin, and to ask God for a clear conscience.
To me, a covenant is more than just a promise or an agreement. Those are too easily broken, or too easily forgotten. The word covenant seems much more solemn, much deeper than just some words spoken or a pledge made. I think of it as words in action, of deeds inspired by a relationship between the two people who made the covenant. Marriage is a covenant. Joining the priesthood or a religious order is a covenant. But I don’t think you have to get married or join a religious order to make a covenant with God.
A perfect example of this can be found in the Gospel today…Jesus, in the classic “forty days in the desert” story, makes a covenant of His own. He commits to spending forty days in a barren wasteland, fasting, being tempted by various evils, etc., all for the love of God and His people. What a great representation of the forty days of this Lenten season that began this past Wednesday. What a great chance Lent gives us to make our own covenant with God – to become a better person, to serve others, to act justly, to love others more deeply, or any other solemn pledge we would make. So maybe the question we need to consider asking ourselves this Lenten season is: What covenant can I make with God?
Bobby Wassel is the Assistant Director for Service and Outreach with the Saint Louis University Center for Service and Community Engagement.