1st Sunday of Lent B21
“What am I giving up for Lent?” We ask ourselves that question every year. And it is usually answered by saying we are giving up something outsides of ourselves that we usually eat or drink: ice cream, candy, desserts, potatoes chips (my weakness), alcohol, sugary drinks, coffee or tea, etc. But I would suggest that we give up something that comes from within: foul language, insults, bitterness, undue or unwarranted criticism, losing one’s temper, laziness or wasting time, etc. While curbing our appetites (fasting) is very worthwhile, it is sometimes easier to do in comparison to what I just suggested.
Here’s an idea that I read that changed for me how I view Lent with a different way of thinking: “We are not the ones who are meant to accomplish great things for God. Rather, it is God who acts; it is God who makes the sacrifice; it is God who accomplishes great things for us.”
Each of the readings points that out by dealing with conflict in one form or another. In the first reading, we have an everlasting covenant made by God with Noah and the rest of creation; God acting. Noah, his wife and children with their spouses, and a whole boatful of animals have just survived being tossed about by a great flood that covered the earth. They felt helpless as the forces of nature swirled around them. We are in the same boat (pun intended) as we are dealing with a pandemic, though we now have vaccines rolling out. But I remember thinking last March that only God could help us.
The second conflict is a spiritual one, between good and evil, faithfulness and disobedience. While it’s an on-going struggle, God has given us hope through the waters of baptism and the forgiveness of sins through the sacrament of Reconciliation; God who accomplishes great thing for us.
And finally in the Gospel, Jesus is driven by the Spirit to do battle with temptation in the desert. Mark doesn’t say what temptation(s) Jesus struggled with, but it still would result in sacrificing his life for all of humanity; God making the sacrifice.
The final lesson is what I quoted before: “We are not the ones who are meant to accomplish great things for God. Rather, it is God who acts; it is God who makes the sacrifice; it is God who accomplishes great things for us.”
 Diane Bergant, C.S.A., Preaching the New Lectionary, Year B, 1999, p. 98, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota.