Saturday 20 December 2014

1st Sunday of Lent Year B

Many of us can survive for some time without food, but how many of us can survive for a certain period of time without water? Our bodies are composed of quite a lot of water, and as we lose water through various ways, we need to replenish the water lost. Thus, water is essential to all life. We need water to drink, to cook, to clean ourselves, to wash our clothes and other things, to enable our trees, vegetables, flowers and other kinds of plants to grow and become fruitful, and even for animals both wild and tame to live and prosper. Most of us don't give much thought to or appreciate the need for water, but when we are deprived of water due to shortage and rationing, due to maintenance or repairs to the pipes, or due to some other reason, then we begin to realise how important water really is.

When we look at water, we realise that too little water is not a good thing. On the other hand, too much water is also not a good thing. Why so? Too much water could cause damage to crops and cause food prices to escalate. Too much water could also cause floods and even tsunamis which have happened in recent times and caused great destruction and lost of life. But if we ponder for a while, we can begin to realise that just as water can kill, it can also bring life.

Water seems to be the common theme in today's readings. In the first and second reading, we read of the flood waters which destroyed most of life on earth. In the gospel, we read of the Spirit driving Jesus into the wilderness, where water is scarce. When we look at the readings, we can see how too much water and too little water could be a bad thing. Too much water in the form of the flood waters caused death and destruction. Too little water caused much hardship and challenges to Jesus during His 40 days of being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. At the same time, we can also discover that the destructive power of water leads to salvation. In the story of Noah, God promises Noah that he will never destroy the world again with flood waters. At the end of Jesus’ experience in the desert, He proclaimed the Good News to all, with a message that will quench the thirst of everyone who long for the kingdom of God.

What about us? How does water affect us as we go through this season of Lent? During this season of Lent, water reminds us of our need for conversion and repentance, where we must die to our old ways of selfishness and sinfulness in the flood waters of purification; we must purify our intentions and face our temptations with courage, hope and trust, as we journey with Jesus into the wilderness of our lives. Water reminds us of our baptism and our constant need to remain "hydrated" with the Lord, as the second reading tells us: "That water is a type of the baptism which saves you now, and which is not the washing off of physical dirt but a pledge made to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..." Let us therefore take courage, knowing that we can continue to hope and trust in Jesus, as the second reading assures us: "Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God."

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