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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Feb. 26, 2012

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

February 26, First Sunday of Lent

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Genesis 9:8-15

Psalm 25:4-9

2) 1 Peter 3:18-22

Gospel: Mark 1:12-15

I was baptized as an infant, making me one of those "cradle Catholics." On the one hand, I don't consider my baptism extraordinary, since my parents also were both cradle Catholics, as were my grandparents and great-grandparents. Many infants thus have been dedicated to Christ, in and through the church, as a matter of course. Somewhere in their ancestry a family member consciously resolved to enter into relationship with God, and that decision to trust God began a chain reaction of faith commitments.

Nonetheless, we all know lifelong "name-only" Christians whose lives bear little witness to such a relationship. Whether through ignorance or a conscious decision, these people look pretty much like everyone else, lacking either the will or the understanding to follow Jesus and all that this entails.

Whatever "covenant" was established through their baptism has manifested itself as a rather one-sided proposition. Truth be told, the relationship between God and human beings has been mostly one-sided since the beginning of time, since no one has been completely faithful, even with the best of intentions.

For those who keep God's covenant, as well as for those countless generations who have broken faith since the time of Noah, today's readings hold a tremendous message of hope. The annual repetition of the Lenten season reminds us that Jesus was "put to death in the flesh" and "raised to life in the spirit" to confirm God's everlasting covenant with us, despite our inability to remain faithful.

Does this mean that we bear no responsibility whatsoever for the relationship? On the contrary! Just as he did for our ancestors in faith, Jesus announces a "time of fulfillment," a season of repentance, an invitation to cradle Catholics and relative newcomers alike, to "believe in the Gospel." Our descendants are depending on our response.


What "ancestors in faith" do you have to thank for your present covenant relationship with God? How can this Lenten season be for you a time of repentance and covenant renewal?


"See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you" (Genesis 9:9).


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