Celebrate Sunday Mass - First Sunday of Lent - 2.21.21
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2/21/2021 (1 month ago)
By Deacon Keith FournierFebruary 21, 2021 -- FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...
I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO SUNDAY MASS ON THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT in the Catholic Diocese of Tyler. The response to offering these liturgies online has been overwhelming. The readings, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them and reflect upon them before we assist at Holy Mass.
Our first reading for today's Holy Mass is taken from the 9th chapter of the first Book of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. It follows the account of the flood which ravished the earth because of the sin of its inhabitants. The Lord chose Noah, a righteous man, and his sons, through which to begin again.
The flood has now subsided, and God promises Noah, who had offered fitting sacrifice to the Lord, that he will never again destroy the earth in this way. In the beginning of the chapter, he called Noah and his sons to be fruitful and replenish the earth. He then entered a Covenant with Noah, a covenant which marked another turning point in Salvation history.
The imagery of Noah's Ark points to or "prefigures" the Church. The waters of the flood are compared to the waters of Baptism. So much of what occurred in the Hebrew Scriptures, which Christians call the Old Testament, prefigures its fulfillment in the New Testament. The Church is the New Israel, living out the New Covenant, sealed in the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
Paragraphs 1094 and 1095 of the Catholic Catechism, with accompanying footnotes to the Scriptures and the early Church fathers explain this prefiguring in these words:
"It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built, and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called "typological" because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the "figures" (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant.
"By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled. Thus the flood and Noah's ark prefigured salvation by Baptism, as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, "the true bread from heaven."
"For this reason, the Church, especially during Advent and Lent and above all at the Easter Vigil, re-reads and re-lives the great events of salvation history in the "today" of her liturgy. But this also demands that catechesis help the faithful to open themselves to this spiritual understanding of the economy of salvation as the Church's liturgy reveals it and enables us to live it."
In the Rite of Baptism, the priest (or deacon) prays a blessing over the water which will be used. It contains these words: "The waters of the great flood you made a sign of the waters of Baptism, that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness."
Our second reading is an excerpt from the third chapter of the first letter of the Apostle Peter to all of the early Christians. Notice the reference to Noah and his family being chosen, and the reference to the Church and to the waters of Baptism.
From the earliest days, the Church has understood her mission. The Church is the mystical Body of Christ. Jesus Himself is the Head of His Body. He continues His ministry through the Church. Jesus has fulfilled all the promises of the covenants of the past and sealed the New and Eternal Covenant in His Blood.
When we passed through the Waters of the Baptismal font, we were freed from original sin and given the grace we need to live that New Covenant in our own lives. We also entered the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. We are members of that Body.
Do we believe this? Do we live differently because of it?
The Gospel for today's Holy Mass on this First Sunday of Lent continues with more from the first chapter of the Gospel account of St. Mark. Immediately after His Baptism by John, Jesus is driven by the Spirit into the desert where he is tempted by the devil and defeats him.
He is also ministered to by angels. The letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament reminds us that Jesus was like us in all things but sin. (Hebrews 4:15). In His Sacred humanity He not only defeated these temptations for us, but He also gave us the very pattern which we should follow in our own Christian lives when we are tempted.
And we will be tempted. But the very angels which ministered to Jesus now guard us and do battle with the tempter on our behalf. Do we really understand the Christian life as a New Way of living? Do we battle the temptations we face in the Lord and use the Word of God like Jesus did?
We can. We should.
May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church, and the Nations of the world on this Lord's Day.
Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation
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