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Sunday, March 5, 2006

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First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15
1 Peter 3:18-22
Psalm 25
Mark 1:12-15

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"A few persons, eight in all, escaped in the ark through the water. You are now saved by a baptismal bath which corresponds to this exactly." —1 Peter 3:20-21

After Noah's flood, God promised: "Never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood" (Gn 9:11). In fact, God went a step farther than not destroying us by water. He decided to save us through water. "You are now saved by a baptismal bath" (1 Pt 3:21).

During Lent, thousands of catechumens are preparing for new life in Christ through the waters of baptism. We, who have already been baptized and born again through faith in Jesus, are walking with those soon to be baptized. This Lenten walk to the living waters is an opportunity for all of us to renew our baptismal promises to the Lord Jesus. Millions will take this opportunity on Easter Sunday at every Mass celebrated in the world.

First, however, we must walk through the desert of Lent before coming to the life-giving waters of Easter (Mk 1:12). As we fast and pray, our hardened hearts begin to change. We repent of sin and remove from our lives those things incompatible with our baptismal commitment to Jesus. We are new, fresh, fully alive. Our baptism is clearly "the pledge to God of an irreproachable conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pt 3:21).

Prayer:  Father, by Lent's end may I feel as if I just came out of the waters of baptism.

Promise:  "This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the gospel!" —Mk 1:15

Praise:  Praise Jesus, Who walked on water, then walked out of His tomb and opened the gates of heaven.

Reference:  (For a related teaching, order our tape on Baptismal Promises - Do You Reject Satan? on audio AV 83-1 or video V-83.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 16, 2005

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