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Pastor’s Corner 2.18.2024

Repent and Believe in the Gospel

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Today’s first reading recounts the covenant with Noah that God established after the great flood. The Old Testament account of the great flood prefigures baptism, which St. Paul says, “saves you now.” In the waters of baptism, we receive the blessings of Jesus’ death and resurrection. St. Paul says, “Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God.” Paul goes on to say that baptism “is not a removal of dirt from the body but 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…”

For those who are seeking baptism through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (R.C.I.A.), Lent is a time of final preparation to be baptized. They enter a time of purification and enlightenment during which they pray for clarity to see their sins and to turn from them. For the rest of us, those already baptized, Lent is the annual opportunity to bring our lives in line with the identity we received at our baptism, namely that we became sons or daughters of God.

The Gospel passage for today recalls the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He had been baptized by John and then spent 40 days in the desert undergoing temptation by Satan. Lent, implies for us, a forty day period of spiritual testing and growth. After his time in the desert, Jesus goes to Galilee and begins to announce, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

“Repent, and believe in the gospel” are words that can be uttered before ashes are imposed on our heads on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a marvelous gift that the Church gives us every year to help us turn from sinful ways and grow in virtue and holiness. The traditional disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are tools that we can take advantage of to help us grow closer to the Lord, gain self-mastery over our wayward passions, and reach out in love to others. All three of those things help us to look more like the children of God that we became on the day of our baptism.

Use this Lent to strengthen your identity as a Catholic and as a child of the Most High God that you became on the day of your baptism.

Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,