First Reading
Genesis 9:8-15

God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. 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.” God added: “This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.”

Second Reading
1 Peter 3:18-22

Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. 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. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It 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, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Mark 1:12-15

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. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The great image that is given to us today is that of Christ in the Desert. We must let our minds dwell on this phrase: The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. The evangelist Mark wants us to understand that Jesus did not decide just on his own to take a walk in the desert or to go out to the desert for a quiet day. No, Jesus is driven into the desert by the Spirit. This event happens, in Mark’s Gospel, immediately after Jesus is baptized in the Jordan by John and hears the voice from heaven: You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

When Jesus is drive into the desert by the Spirit, he knows that he is a beloved Son, the beloved Son, and that God is well pleased with him.

This underlying reality is important for us as we enter into Lent this year. We are driven into the desert also, by the Spirit present in the Church. But we must enter into Lent knowing that we are beloved and that God is pleased with us.

Jesus is driven into the desert so that he can struggle with the devil, with the temptations of the devil. This is why we also are driven into the desert each Lent. It is not as though we can have Lent one time only in our lives! No matter how many Lents we pass through, we still find that we are struggling with sin and its consequences in our lives.

The first reading today, from the Book of Genesis, is about God’s covenant with Noah. It is important for us to recognize that we belong to the New Covenant—that God has made promises to us also. We Christians sometimes act as though we were striving to earn our own salvation. Instead, the deepest response that we should have is to love because we are loved. The New Covenant is God’s promise to always love us and forgive us in Christ Jesus.

So Lent becomes a time of purification because we are loved. The purification is to let go of all within us that is not a response to that love: to have a clear conscience. We Christians should want to live with the power of the Holy Spirit—and Lent is the time to open ourselves to that incredible strength. It is a time to focus our energies anew, to allow our hearts to seek the Lord, to allow ourselves leisure to pursue God!

At a practical level, Lent is a time to choose to live in God. Sometimes that choice means that we must give up various things in our lives. At other times, that choice means that we must strive to live in new and positive ways. Lent gives us an incredible luxury of choices about how to look for God in this sacred time!

The worst way of living is not to make any choices at all, but simply to let life push us around, one way or another, day after day and year after year. As Christians, we are invited to live in a different way!

We are invited to take control of our lives in the Holy Spirit, to choose for Christ, and to choose each day to live in Christ’s love and compassion and to share that love and compassion with the others who enter into our lives.

Lent can be a time of great blessings for us, a time to renew our energies for living, a time. Now is the time of salvation and our God invites us.