Lent focuses on Baptism. Our catechumens who want to be baptized will be baptized at Easter, so it is the final step in their preparation. We who have been baptized, by acts of penance like prayer, fasting and almsgiving are preparing ourselves to renew our baptismal vows.
My Dear Sisters and brothers!
If we made a catholic map of the Earth it would have thousands of shrines like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, Santiago de Compostella, Guadalupe and many others. However each of us should also acknowledge and underline the place where we were baptized; where the waters of baptism washed away our sins and gave us new life as children of God. The place where you were baptized is one of the most important places in your life journey. It is your shrine. Every time I go to Poland I go to the baptismal font in my parish church. It is a highlight of my visit to the old country. I kneel down in front of the font, I place my hand on it and I pray: “My God I wish I could fully understand the miracle which happened here on 13th of July 1975 when I was baptized.” I learnt to do that from Saint John Paul II. When he came to his home town as Pope he was to lead a service in his home church. When he entered the church he surprised everybody because instead going to the presidential chair prepared for him he went to the baptismal font, he knelt on the floor and embraced the font as if it were his best friend or his mother.
That’s why we have Lent so that, as we prayed in the first reading, we could understand the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection and reflect it in our life.
We, who are participating in the Eucharist on this First Sunday of Lent 2015, aren’t historians researching the past events but we are the people who, like Noah from the first reading, have experienced the saving hand of God. We could say that Noah was lucky to escape the damaging flood but the truth is that Noah was blessed to escape the plague of sins which was spreading before the Great Flood. St Peter refers to these events when he says in the second reading: “The Great Flood is a type of Baptism which saves you now.”
At the end of Lent we will have Easter but Easter isn’t about a past event when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, it is acknowledging that the great thing we recall at Easter still happens when we are baptized. Our baptism was another Easter when we died with Jesus to sin and rose with him to new life. Each Lent is like the moment Noah had when he stood at the door of the Ark remembering sins overcome by God in the waters of the Great Flood and looking forward to new life which was to be shared with God; the life in obedience to God which is the only life where we can find lasting happiness.
That’s why, at Easter, those who are going to baptized first will be asked to reject Satan and profess their faith. We who have been baptized won’t be baptized again but we will be also asked to reject Satan and profess our faith in Christ Jesus. It is easy to say six times: “I do” but before we say “I do” let’s think if we do this in our daily life. If we didn’t cooperate with God’s grace to practice our catholic way of life daily, it would be better for us to keep our mouth shut at Easter instead of saying “I do” which would be lying before God and his Church. It would be an abuse to Jesus’ death and Resurrection and it would be an abuse to our baptism too.
To avoid this situation we have been given: prayer, fasting and almsgiving to be practiced, to connect us with Jesus more closely. They are grace-giving-events. That’s why they aren’t just for Lent. We should practice them on regular basis, with a bigger involvement in Lent.
To be a good catholic means to let God change us. And God does want to help us. He gives us prayer, fasting and almsgiving. He gives us confession. But he doesn’t want to force us to accept them. However if we do accept them and if we do practice them we will have not only a good Easter but we will have a great true catholic life.