1STSUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B ON FEBRUARY 21, 2021 (R. 1: Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; R. 2: 1 Peter 3:18-22; Gospel: Mark 1:12-15)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
BACK TO FACTORY SETTING
Do you have your smart phone with you? What about your laptop, desktop or any form of computer with you? You know how well they serve us when these devices are new. You know they make life so easy for us. With them, we get things done quickly. But after a while, they become overloaded, they begin to slow down and to act out. Sometimes they freeze, and they frustrate us, maybe as a result of some virus or some other things behind their malfunctioning. One of the ways to get back is to reset them to factory setting where we delete everything that is a source of hindrance to the smooth running of the devices. When we return a smart phone to factory setting, it seems it takes a deep breath, and it begins to function well and life becomes interesting again.
In the Book of Genesis, after God created the heavens and the earth, he saw that all was good, everything was running smoothly until it came to a time that sin entered into this world and human beings began to grow in evil and in wickedness against one another. There was need for God to do a reset, to take everything back to factory setting. He did this through the flood that swept away almost every life on earth, with the exception of those in Noah’s ark.
In today’s first reading, after the reset, at the end of the flood, God made a covenant with Noah and his descendants that he would no longer carry out a reset through the flood; that he would no longer destroy all of life by way of the flood. And so it was, in the fullness of time, human beings began to act out and sin began to dominate the earth. There was need for a reset, but like God already promised, He was not going to do a reset by way of the flood, and so he sent His son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, no longer for the water of the flood to sweep all of life, but for the world to be flooded by the blood of Jesus from the cross of Calvary.
At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus was in River Jordan, not for the water to flood the earth, but for the water of baptism to wash away our sins, and carry out a reset that we may get back to factory setting. Still at the beginning of his public ministry in today’s Gospel passage, we find Jesus in the desert, forty days and forty nights. The desert reminds us of aridity, the desert reminds us of emptiness it takes our minds back to the beginning before creation when everything was a formless void, factory setting, when God began to create.
And so, in the desert, every distraction is put away for Jesus to carry out a reset. Being in the desert also afforded Jesus the opportunity to prepare himself for the journey ahead, for the work of reset to factory setting that was ahead of him. Because there was no distractions, Jesus also had the time to reflect on his identity and the mission that flowed from his identity.
In the season of Lent, we have the opportunity to join Jesus in the desert, to go to a place that reminds us of aridity, of emptiness, free of all distractions, where we are able to go back into ourselves to ask ourselves what is essential for us to carry out a reset back to factory setting. In the course of this reflection, we look inward to ask and answer the question about our identity. Who are you? What is central to your identity? Who is the “you” in you that makes you the “you” that you are? If you avoid all distractions, and you get to that depth of you, then you are empowered to face all that is ahead. If you know yourself, no one will be able to talk down on you, no one will be able to make you think less of yourself. Because Jesus took his time to reflect on his identity and the mission that flows from his identity, he was able to conquer the devil when he was tempted. When we take out time to reflect on our identity, we will be better empowered to gain victory in all the temptations that come our way.
As we begin the season of Lent, we are with Jesus in the desert. There are many struggles we face, there are many known and unknown forces fighting against us. There are many negativities all around us. On our own we cannot succeed. Today’s Gospel passage tells us that the angels ministered to Jesus in the desert and he was victorious. That is why, my dearly beloved in Christ, I pray for you as I pray for myself on this day that the angels of God may minister to us, may accompany us, so that whatever stumbling block that is placed on our path may be changed into stepping stones leading us to greater heights until we come to our heavenly inheritance, through Christ our Lord. Amen.