1st Sunday of Lent - - - The Desert: Hand-to-Hand Combat with Evil
The story of Noah may seem a peculiar start for Lent, but, as St. Peter reminds us in the second reading, in that story we are presented with the peculiar quality of water to both give life, and to destroy it. Just as in our Baptism water has given us life in the Holy Spirit, it has also destroyed the evil of original sin within us, although the misdirected heart continues to need of further healing by God's restoring Grace. Another beautiful aspect of this story is that while God restrains himself until the ark is complete, he further shows his abundant mercy by promising by means of a covenant, that his “bow” of power will be restrained for evermore: he hangs up his rainbow in the sky when the rains come as a token of peace. Thus God shows that he no longer wishes to fight the evil of our world from the safety of his castle ramparts in the sky. Casting aside his bow, He instead wishes to fight evil in hand-to-hand combat on this earth, in human flesh. And Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begins that battle concretely today in the desert, where there is nothing that can protect him, distract him, or hide him from the evil of our world. And that battle against evil eventually will bring Our Savior to the cross, where the Son of God takes the ultimate casualty against evil, offering His life as the final victory through the power of his resurrection. And the wood of the ark that saved the righteous of Noah's age from the flood, now reveals itself in the wood of the Cross that saves us.
As we embark on the Season of Lent, we too find ourselves in a desert: purifying ourselves of unnecessary distractions, we have to face the evil in our individual lives and in our world. The Lord is asking us to join him in that hand-to-Hand combat, to struggle against that evil, and with the strength that comes from God, to experience the life that He gives on the other side of death – death to our sinful ways, and life in God's will. Indeed, it is only in the cross that we are saved, and the spiritual battle of the christian life is fought in our hearts this Lent. May the Lord God, the mighty warrior who has conquered sin and evil, do the same in our souls through this Lenten Season. Amen.