The words Repent and Believe set the agenda

A Lenten reflection by Bishop Peter Holiday

We welcome Jesus proclamation in the Gospel on this first Sunday of Lent ‘Repent and Believe the Good News for the kingdom of God is close at hand. The words Repent and Believe set the agenda, the path we are invited to take and respond to. As we join Jesus for forty days in the desert. The desert a place that is dry and barren. A quiet and still place for reflection. A place we can open our hearts to listen and hear the voice of God speak to us. Alone in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit to guide us to reflect and examine our Christian lives in relationship with God, others and ourselves. To assist and guide us on this journey and holy season of Lent God’s Word offers us the spiritual treasures of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The first reading of God’s Word from the Book of Genesis leads us to God’s interaction with Noah and the flood that destroyed all the creatures and things of the earth except those saved by entering the ark. God’s promise that the world would never be destroyed again by water, signified by the rainbow in the sky and a reminder of the covenant between God, Noah and all generations to come.

Christ is the centre of the second reading focusing on his death and resurrection. The power that overcame sin and death in a new covenant of his blood on the cross. The saving power celebrated in the waters of baptism. The sacrament that brings us into a relationship with God, as adopted sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.

The Gospel sees the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the desert to fast and be tempted by the devil. That harsh place with the wild beasts. Yet God’s angels looked after him. After his time of prayer and lasting Jesus takes up his mission and proclaims Repent and believe in the Good News for the kingdom of God is close at hand”. We are called to listen and hear the message of this Good News so that we may grow in a deepening personal relationship with God who loves us. Reaching spiritual and human maturity is a life long journey for us Christians. Brothers and sisters who have entered into a covenant relationship of love with God through the sacrament of baptism.

The sacred season of Lent offers us time set aside, for an ongoing conversion of spiritual and human growth, as we are a community of faith. A faith lived in relationship with God and others. Pope Francis reminds us of this in his encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti based on fraternity and social friendship. In his Lent message 2021 to the Church he speaks of us been a common human family that cares and loves others. Lent says Pope Francis is a time for renewing Faith, Hope and Love. Virtues that enable us to grow to spiritual and human maturity. Every moment of our live is a time for believing, hoping and loving” says Pope Francis.

The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing our goods to help the most needy. As we live in hope this Lent in the midst of Covid-19 we are offered the opportunity to care not only for ourselves but to care about our common family. Our brothers and sisters that journey with us in our common

home of God’s creation. Let us journey this Lent together to die to sin and to rise anew through a conversion of the heart to celebrate the feast of Easter.

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