Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent, Year B

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent, Year B

Feb 18, 2024 | Reflections

Two images from nature dominate this Sunday’s readings.

Firstly, the image of the desert, which is a place of testing. Lent is based on Jesus’ forty days in the desert in preparation for His public ministry. In the desert, Jesus was tempted by Satan. The devil tempted Adam and Eve and each of us in a similar way. The main types of temptation are: pleasure, popularity and power. Jesus rejects each of the temptations and teaches us how to do the same. In times of testing, our illusions of self-sufficiency fade away and we realize that we need God. The second image is that of the flood, which purified the earth. There were only eight survivors: Noah and his family. God then put the rainbow in the sky as a sign of the covenant he made with Noah; that He would never again flood the earth.

The second reading today teaches that the great flood foreshadowed Christian Baptism which is the flood of grace that purifies our souls of Original Sin and all personal sin. Through grace, God lives in us as in a temple. Lent is a holy season of growing in spiritual maturity through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. By embracing the discipline of Lent, we are reminded of where we have come from and where we are going. This has always been a source of courage for Christian saints and martyrs.

St Tarcisius, a martyr of the Eucharist

It reminds me of the story of St Tarcisius, a martyr of the Eucharist. Tarcisius was a twelve-year-old acolyte during one of the fierce Roman persecutions of the third century, probably during that of Valerian. Each day, from a secret meeting place in the catacombs where Christians gathered for Mass, a deacon would be sent to the prisons to carry the Eucharist to those Christians condemned to die. At one point, there was no deacon to send and so St. Tarcisius, an acolyte, was sent carrying the Blessed Sacrament carefully in a pyx to those in prison.

On the way, he was stopped by boys his own age who were not Christians but knew him as a playmate and lover of games. He was asked to join their games, but this time he refused and the crowd of boys noticed that he was carrying something. Somehow, he was also recognized as a Christian, and the small gang of boys, anxious to view the Blessed Sacrament, became a mob and turned upon Tarcisius with fury. He went down under the blows, and it is believed that a fellow Christian drove off the mob and rescued the young acolyte.

The mangled body of Tarcisius was carried back to the catacombs, but the boy died on the way from his injuries. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Callistus, and his relics are claimed by the church of San Silvestro in Rome. God honoured the young martyr by rescuing the Blessed Sacrament from desecration.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: 


That is, turn away from self-centred, selfish habits and go to Confession. Then He says: Believe in the Gospel. We need to trust completely in Jesus and desire that His Kingdom come in its fullness upon the earth. We pray for this every time we recite the Our Father.

In the past God has purged the earth. According to Bible history this happened two thousand years after Adam and Eve, when people had forgotten about God and there was much sin in the world. Only eight people survived in the Ark. Two thousand years later according to the Scriptures, God became man. Through the coming of Christ, the whole world would be renewed. Even time itself is measured from the time of Christ. One after the other, starting with the Roman Empire, nations became Christian and missionaries were sent throughout the whole world.  It is now about two thousand years since Christ. The world has again for the most part become neo-pagan. It is prophesied that before the third renewal, there will be a time of general confusion. It seems clear that we are living in that time now. The earth will once again be purged, and God’s Kingdom will come in its fullness. The Book of Heaven, as revealed to mystic and Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta, and which has the imprimatur of the Church, is wonderful spiritual reading for these times we are living through. It helps make sense of what is happening around us.  In order to receive the gift of God’s Will, let aim during Lent to get rid of the pebble of our own selfish will, which is the source of all our miseries and allow Jesus to reign in us with His Will. Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!