Celebrant: As we embrace the sacrifices of Lent, let us present to God our needs and the needs of the world.
That the Church may show the world the way to God through repentance and prayer, we pray to the Lord…
That world leaders may work together to seek peace and justice for all, we pray to the Lord…
That as God made a covenant with all living things, so we His people may grow in our respect for life, and actively protect it, we pray to the Lord...
That those suffering from illness and old age may have gentle caregivers to attend to them and ease their pain, we pray to the Lord…
That the members of our parish family may renew our covenant with God through sacrifice, reconciliation, and prayer, we pray to the Lord…
That those who have died may rest in the loving presence of the saints and angels, we pray to the Lord…
Gracious God, giver of all good gifts, receive these prayers.
Answer the needs of your people, and keep us in your care,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The cleansing power of water
Today’s first reading speaks to us of Noah’s Ark. The flood that God sent upon the world in Noah’s day was a cleansing of evil. Now, God cleanses us not by floods, but by the waters of baptism, which bring to us a whole new kind of life: the life of God within us.
Our special efforts in Lent to come closer to God are a response to what has already happened to us! Because we have received the new life of God, we have to reform our lives and live as his sons and daughters. We have to become who we already are. The holy water we use when we come in and out of Church is a reminder of the cleansing waters of baptism, and a reminder of the new life we are called to live.
God is a God of life, and therefore we are the People of Life. This Lent, let’s look for ways to foster respect for life, especially the sick, the disabled, and the unborn.
1 Pt 3:18-22
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“This is the time of fulfillment.” The call to repentance, issued at the start of Lent, is a call to respond to something that has already happened. The promise of the covenant after the flood in the days of Noah has been fulfilled in the new and everlasting covenant of Christ. God has cleansed us by the waters of baptism, and given us new, eternal life. This is the fulfillment which brings an obligation: reform your lives, so that they will correspond to the new life that has been poured into you!
Repentance, therefore, is not a matter of something imposed from the outside, but rather a matter of being consistent with a gift already given.
This gift, essentially, is life. By the new and eternal covenant, renewed in each Mass, we become, ever more deeply, a people of Life. The repentance we undertake is expressed in the self-giving that Christ shows us on the altar. We give ourselves away to foster life in our families, our communities, and the world.
Putting ourselves aside to welcome the gift of life in the person of the unborn child is a particularly urgent aspect of the repentance needed in our nation today. Lent gives us the opportunity to echo that call: Reform your lives, and put aside the doubt, fear, and selfishness that would destroy another human being in the name of “choice.” Reform your lives, and repent of the silence that keeps you from defending the helpless in your midst. Reform your lives, and work for the reformation of the laws and policies of the nation, that they may protect the rights that God has already given to all, born and unborn. Reform your lives, reject the covenant of death, and live the Covenant of Life!