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Sunday:       First Sunday of Lent
Date:         February 26, 2012
Year:         B
The readings: [Gen. 9:8-15; 1 Pet. 3:18-22; Mk. 1:12-15]
The message:  We shall triumph because Jesus triumphed!
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry
Total words:  1228

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** The readings follow the sermon.

As I reviewed today's readings during the week in preparation for my sermon, I remembered that the Old Covenant of God goes far beyond the days of Abraham or Moses. The Old Covenant had its beginning in the days of Noah.

As we heard earlier, the rainbow in the clouds is the sign of God's Covenant with us! Nowadays, whenever we see a rainbow in the clouds, we should remember that it is God's prophetic sign of the triumph of Jesus over Satan who was the ruler of this world.

Today's message from the Word of God clearly speaks of this triumph. The triumph of Jesus is a perfect message during the Lenten Season. It tells us that because of the triumph of Jesus by His death on the Holy Cross, through Him and with Him, we can also be triumphant in our battle against evil.

In the days of Noah, the people throughout the world had become very evil, practicing all kinds of abominations that offended the Lord God. Because of this, God told Noah to build an ark and to gather his family and two of every kinds of animals. When the ark was completed, Noah and his family, eight persons in total, entered the ark with all the animals. Then, as we know from what the Holy Bible teaches us, God flooded the world.

When the days of the flooding were over and the ark had touched land, Noah, his family and all the animals left the ark. Then, God spoke to Noah and to his sons.

God promised to establish a Covenant with Noah and all his descendants. God promised that never again would He flood the entire world to destroy every living thing on the earth. As a sign of His promise, He gave the rainbow to the world for all to see in the sky.

Now, the flooding of the world is symbolic of the Sacrament of Baptism. Also, the flooding of the world was prophetic of our Baptism that was to come by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is especially noticeable by the Words of God when He said, 'never again' would He flood the world. The Words 'never again' are a sign that God is appeased through the Sacrament of Baptism. For through this Church Sacrament, we triumph over Satan by the grace of God the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit and our faith in the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

During the Second Reading from the First Letter of Peter, we heard Peter speaking to the believers. Peter was comparing the sufferings of the Gentiles who had become Christians versus the sufferings of Jesus. Peter was telling them that since Jesus had triumphed, they would also triumph. Their Baptism was the pledge of their triumph for it gave them a share in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Just as Noah was saved by passing through the waters of the flood, so also, Christians receive their first installment towards salvation through faith in Jesus and their passage through the water of Baptism.

Peter told the Gentiles that Jesus suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring us to God. The sacrifice of Jesus was not just for a few, but for all of us, from the beginning of time until the end of time. He who was sinless, took upon Himself the weight of our sins and allowed Himself to be crucified in our place so God the Father may be appeased. Christ died for us!

Having died on the cross, Jesus resurrected. He was raised to Heaven and glorified by God the Father above all living creations. Having been glorified, Jesus no longer enjoys a physical body. He has been made alive in the Spirit.

In His Spirit, Jesus went to make a proclamation to the spirits [1 Pet. 3:19] of those in prison. Jesus went and announced to them His glorious triumph over evil.

In the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus was accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, He spoke of this triumph. He said, "But not one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered." [Mk. 3:27]

In other words, Jesus was announcing that Satan would be tied down. The Kingdom of God would begin its growth on earth. We, God's baptized children, are living proof of the presence of the spiritual Kingdom of God on earth. Through the Holy Catholic Church, we as living stones, God's chosen people, a holy priesthood, are united as one in the Body of Christ.

But there will come a time when Satan will no longer be tied down. The Book of Revelations tells us that after Satan has been bound for an indefinite period of time, "he must be let out for a little while." [Rev. 20:2-3]

By that time, the Body of Christ will have grown so large, there being millions and millions of baptized children of God, that Satan will be powerless in his last days.

Through Baptism, the door to our salvation is opened. Through this Sacrament, we receive the seal of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as our first instalment towards salvation. [2 Cor. 1:22]

The Sacrament of Baptism does not remove the dirt from our physical bodies for our bodies are called to die. But, it is an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ who has completed His work on earth and who is now sitting at the right hand of the Father. There, all the angels, the authorities and the powers are subject to Him, He who has all authority over all of creation.

Jesus triumphed over disobedience, rebellion and persecution. Through His triumph, we can also be triumphant.

During today's Gospel, we heard how Jesus was triumphant over Satan. While in the wilderness for forty days (this being a symbolic number), Satan tempted Him. Jesus did not allow Himself to be seduced by Satan. He came on earth to overthrow the worldly kingdom of Satan that had its beginning when Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. Jesus came on earth to reclaim God's Kingdom that was rightfully His, but stolen by Satan through sin.

Today's Gospel Reading finished with Jesus announcing in Galilee, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.'

As members of the Kingdom of God, during the Lenten Season, we are called to repent of our sins that offend God. We are called to frequently remember the triumph of Jesus. We are called to triumphantly live our faith in Christ as baptized children of God. We are called to go forward and shine by our obedience, our servitude, our charity towards others, through prayers, sacrifices, all in the love of God.

Doing so, we know that in the end, our triumph shall also be glorious through the salvation that we shall inherit as children of God.

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 'As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.'

God said, 'This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations; I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.'" [Gen. 9:8-15]

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Second Reading...

"Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison. In former times these did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

Baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you - not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good 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 made subject to him." [1 Pet. 3:18-22]

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Gospel Reading...

"After Jesus was baptized, the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the Angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.'" [Mk. 1:12-5]

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