Can it be Lent already? What happened to Christmas? Yes, indeed, Lent is already upon us and our old friend St. John the Baptist is back in the readings, this time telling us to repent. We expect to be told during Lent to repent, but why? What is so bad about sin if it makes me feel better? The readings that precede the Gospel give us a clue.
The first reading from Genesis 9:8-15 is about God establishing His covenant with His faithful son, Noah. Let us remember God wiped out the entire planet in chapter seven due to the lack of faithfulness on the part of His own children. The people went back on their covenant with the Lord. The disobedience of man and woman is part of the corruption of self-gift which distorts into self-using and a corruption of the “spousal meaning of the body.” Saint John Paul II covers all this in his work The Theology of the Body. John Paul shows us this in chapter two of the catechesis, “Christ appeals to the Human Heart.” Our corruption and distortion was not meant to be so from the beginning. The flood was not in God’s plans as was all the sin and corruption, which caused his wrath in the flood. The corruption/distortion we inherited from Adam and Eve is not simply with our sexuality, but with all of creation. Therefore, Jesus came to redeem all of human nature and the entire created world as well.
The covenant made with Noah is not just with him, but with all his descendants, which means every living creature and us. He promised never again to destroy all bodily creatures. So, it makes perfect sense when St. Paul writes in Romans 8:19-22 that all creation “has been groaning in travail together.” St. Paul goes on to say that “not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, grown inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” We are linked with all of creation. God has graciously made His covenant with His us, His adopted sons and daughters, and we should be good custodians of creation, and not users or exploiters. We live as Pope Francis says; “in a throwaway culture” that uses other children of God for our benefits, but, what about our covenant with Our Father? Have we forgotten who we are as adopted sons and daughters?
In the second reading, St. Peter is trying to remind us this as he refers to us as “beloved.” He reminds us that Jesus wants to take us and lead us to the Father, and that baptism destroys our original sin. However, St. Mark in just four verses of chapter one of his Gospel invites us to be driven, by the Spirit, into the desert of Lent and truly repent and believe in Jesus, the Good News. If we are not made for heaven and the marriage bridal chamber with Jesus, the Bridegroom, then why bother repenting, if not to become His purified spouse? This is part of the theology of our bodies. Jesus is the Kingdom of Heaven and in order to receive Him, we must repent in confession and be washed clean in the “flood” of His merciful grace. He will always send his angels to minister to us as we battle the wild beasts of this age, but fear not He came to bring tidings of great joy-the Kingdom of God is at hand and His Name is Jesus Christ.
Fr. Tom DeSimone was ordained a priest on May 13, 2006, the Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. He most recently served as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in White Plains, NY. He joins the staff of the Theology of the Body Institute on a three year leave from the Archdiocese of New York, to become the Institute’s first full time spiritual advisor and Director of Clergy Development.