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  • Bill Miller

Scripture Reflection, February 18, 2024, First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15 1 Peter 3:18-22 Mark 1:12-15



Today is the First Sunday of Lent. So, what's Lent for?… Seriously.

Lent and Catholics are so linked in the popular culture that the topic shows up on late night comedy shows… A kind of Catholic “No Shave November” or “Dry January.” “What are you giving up for Lent?” So is that the purpose of Lent? Kind of a forty day self- improvement project? An opportunity to breathe life back into faltering New Year's resolutions?

Though we have three different cycles for Sunday scriptures, the First Sunday of Lent always includes a version of Jesus’ temptation in the desert from Matthew, Mark or Luke. This year's selection from Mark is the shortest of the three. Though some details vary, all three agree… Jesus’ experience in the desert was clarifying. It initiated his public ministry. He came out of the desert knowing what God expected of him and committed to following it through.

I suggest that our annual experience of Lent is an opportunity to do the same. To go with Jesus to a time and place apart from the distractions of every day life. To spend time listening to what God asks of us. To re-commit ourselves to walking in his footsteps, a journey that will require some sacrifice. We oppose structures and systems that oppress people, like he did. We include those who are marginalized, like he did. We offer love and forgiveness, like he did.

So this Lent go ahead and give up sweets if you want. You might lose a couple pounds. It couldn't hurt.

But more importantly, spend time this Lent listening to God. With the Spirit as your guide look at your life… at where you spend your time, your money, your energies. Look at how you treat the others in your life. Be open to the kind of changes God may be asking of you.

The Lenten journey takes us from the ashes of Ash Wednesday to the baptismal font of Easter and the renewal of our commitment to die with him so that we may live with him.

Today the journey begins again.

by: Pat Schnee

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