1st Sunday of Lent Year B




I establish my Covenant with you:
no thing of flesh shall be swept away again
by the waters of the flood.
There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.
(Genesis 9:11)

As Lent begins we are reminded that there is nothing in this world that can ever overcome God’s loving care for us. No hold, no addiction, no temptation can ever be greater than God’s grace. In the next forty days we pledge ourselves to co-operate with God’s call to conversion and repentance.
Let us pray that Lent will be for us a period of genuine co-operation with God’s grace so that we may put aside all that holds us back from serving him as we know we ought.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.
Let us pray for those who have wandered away from God and the practice of their religion and find themselves drifting from one passing fad to the next, that they may rediscover the joy of faith.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.
Let us pray for those who are preparing to be baptised or received into the Church at Easter, that the word of God may enlighten their hearts and minds, and they may find a genuine welcome in the communities they are about to join.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.
Let us pray for the Church throughout the world, that at a time when many discouraging things threaten humanity, it may always be a sign of God’s unconquerable love for those he has created.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.
‘Spiritual warfare’ is not a very popular term because it tends to conjure up the image of Christians who are besieged by a hostile world and holed up in some sort of religious system which is a bastion against all progress and development. Sometimes it is the rallying call for off-balance people who want to ban all pleasure and find fault in the most innocent of things. The Church, of course, is not an organisation that is primarily against things. It’s in favour of life and goodness in all its forms. It’s something wholesome and positive.
Yet in today’s scriptures we cannot escape spiritual warfare. We find Noah’s ark battling the floodwaters of all that is evil, and we meet Jesus in the wilderness fighting off the temptations of the devil.
There is no doubting that evil exists in our world. There’s no need here to give a long catalogue of terrible things that happen day by day. We can all cite the examples. And even more speedily we can recall the various ways in which we ourselves co-operate with evil. For evil is not just something that other people get involved in. We are tempted each day to become part of it. Far from being something terrible, like genocide or war, evil creeps up on us in the simplest and craftiest of disguises. It may be the gossip we chip in with that blackens someone’s character, the small act of dishonesty that weakens us for the next time, the festering coldness with which we treat members of our family or the prejudice we house for certain types of people. Evil starts as a small seed and is prepared to bide its time.
But it is never too late to fight back against sin and evil. God told Noah that although the world had turned from goodness and truth he would never allow evil to get the better of humanity. And Jesus himself, although he was really tempted at the roots, gave us the pattern to fight against temptation. God has made a covenant with us that ensures we can never be overcome against our will.
Lent is the period for taking stock of how we allow evil to take hold of us. And with God’s grace it’s the period for fighting back.



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