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Sunday, March 9, 2003

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First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15
1 Peter 3:18-22
Psalm 25
Mark 1:12-15

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how to renew the ultimate covenant

"See, I am now establishing My covenant." —Genesis 9:9

The first Scripture reading of the first Sunday of Lent begins: "God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 'See, I am now establishing My covenant with you and your descendants after you' " (Gn 9:8-9). The Lord made covenants not only with Noah but also with Abraham, Moses, David, and us. Hours before His death, Jesus said at the Last Supper: "This is My blood, the blood  of the covenant" (Mt 26:28). Obviously, covenant is from God's heart and essential to His plan of salvation.

God's covenant with Noah and all His other covenants prefigure the ultimate covenant, the baptismal covenant (see 1 Pt 3:21). Lent is a forty-day preparation to renew our baptismal covenant at Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday at every Catholic Mass in the world. Everything in Lent should be focused on the renewal of our baptismal promises. For example, we go to Confession during Lent to repent of not living our baptismal covenant and promises. We fast in Lent to overcome the evil one (Mt 4:2ff; Mt 17:21), whose works and promises we reject in our baptismal promises. We pray the Stations of the Cross in Lent so that we will believe and love Jesus with all our hearts. This is the fifth baptismal promise. Whatever we do in Lent is to help us renew our baptismal covenant.

Look at the six baptismal promises. Ask the Holy Spirit to spotlight the weaknesses in your baptismal covenant. Plan your Lent to strengthen your covenant where it is weakest.

Prayer:  Father, make me fearless because of Your covenant.

Promise:  "This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the gospel!" —Mk 1:15

Praise:  Praise Jesus, eternal, risen High Priest, tempted and sinless! (Heb 4:15)

Reference:  (For related teaching, order our leaflets, Lent and the Baptismal Promises and The Secret of Fasting, and our booklet, Scriptural Stations of the Cross.)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, August 1, 2002

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 7, 2002