Bottom line: Even though we make a new beginning by the covenant with Noah and by baptism, the battle keeps raging.
Our first reading refers to the Covenant with Noah: "I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you..." This is sometimes called the rainbow covenant. God says, "I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth." It's also called the universal covenant because, according to the Bible, we all descended from Noah.
The covenant has seven precepts that apply to every human being. If you want to know what they are do a google search for the seven laws of Noah. You can also find them in the bulletin.
The big point here is that the covenant with Noah marks a new beginning for humanity. In our second reading St. Peter applies this new beginning to baptism, "a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now."
During Lent we have people preparing for baptism. After this homily we will have the rite of welcoming and enrollment. These baptism candidates are important to us because at Easter we will renew our own baptism.
Baptism has power to save us because of Jesus. He died and rose for us. And we hear today, "The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan." Jesus did battle with Satan.
When I was in Peru, I had one book with me, "Christ vs. Satan in Our Daily Lives" by Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer. It's not an easy book. Fr. Spitzer is one of the most profound minds we have in the Catholic Church. I underlined something on almost every page. It spoke to my own struggle - and to the battle going on in every human heart.
From one point of view, the war is over. Jesus has triumphed over sin, death and the devil. However we are still in a clean-up campaign - like the cleansing of the shire at the end of Lord of the Rings. For his own reasons, God allows Satan to continue to harass us.
In the Gospel we hear this about Jesus temptations, "He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him." Jesus faced the devil not in the full power of his divinity, but in the weakness of his humanity. He gives an example for us. We have to call on the ministry of angels. Some parishes say the St. Michael prayer at the end of Mass. "St. Michael the Angel, defend us in the battle." I recommend it to you personally and in your family.
We are in a spiritual battle. Even though we make a new beginning by the covenant with Noah and by baptism, the battle keeps raging.. Martin Luther summed it up in his hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God". Here is one stanza:
Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing; Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God's own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he; Lord Sabaoth is his name, From age to age the same, And He must win the battle.
Spanish Version (Word document)
From Archives (Ash Wednesday Homilies):
Homilies for First Sunday of Lent ("Temptation Sunday"):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru