First Sunday of Lent – 2018 Baptism is saving work of God!
On this First Sunday of Lent, 2018, it is so refreshing that baptism stands front and center of the readings. The story of Noah and his Ark captured this saving work of God, as we read the story about how God saved humanity from total destruction using Noah’s household. This redemption necessitated a new covenant, which means God’s faithfulness; and that God always kept his word and that we, on the other hand, are to follow suit and keep our own part of the covenant with God. In the First reading, God assured Noah that in the new covenant, he will make a new creation. Hence, “I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” Flood in this context, though, destroyed the old ways, nevertheless becomes the source of new life, which God promised Noah in the new covenant. Flood washed away our old life, that is, sin. This is what baptism does. Look at how Saint Peter in the Second Reading applied the story of Flood, Noah and his Ark in the light of our Lord Jesus Christ’s messianic mission. He says, “Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water.” How do we unpack Peter’s message that “…he went to preach to the spirits in prison?” Peter, hits the nail on the head, because this is the goal of Christ mission to save mankind from the eternal damnation. For all those who came after Adam and were in need of God’s grace, received it when Christ died and resurrected. So, then, from Adam’s fault came forth God’s grace. These First Sunday of Lent readings indeed fast forward the Easter joyful song that says, “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so a great Redeemer!” After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan, the Gospel of Mark tells us that, “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” Brethren, baptism makes us sons and daughters of God, as well as does strengthen our Christian faith. In the next forty days of Lent we shall meet many challenges in our lives, but the messages from these Sunday readings will always continue to draw us closer to who we are? God’s children. Amen.
Father Uche Obikwelu