Liturgy of the Sunday
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Liturgy of the Sunday

First Sunday of Lent Read more

Liturgy of the Sunday
Sunday, February 18

First Sunday of Lent

First Reading

Genesis 9,8-15

God spoke as follows to Noah and his sons, 'I am now establishing my covenant with you and with your descendants to come, and with every living creature that was with you: birds, cattle and every wild animal with you; everything that came out of the ark, every living thing on earth. And I shall maintain my covenant with you: that never again shall all living things be destroyed by the waters of a flood, nor shall there ever again be a flood to devastate the earth.' 'And this', God said, 'is the sign of the covenant which I now make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come: I now set my bow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I shall recall the covenant between myself and you and every living creature, in a word all living things, and never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all living things.


Psalm 25


Lord, I love the house in which you live.

Give judgement for me, O Lord;
for I walk the path of perfection.
I trust in the Lord; I have not wavered.

Examine me, Lord, and try me;
O test my heart and my mind,

for your love is before my eyes
and I walk according to your truth.

I never take my place with liars
and with hypocrites I shall not go.

I hate the evil-doer's company :
I will not take my place with the wicked.

To prove my innocence I wash my hands
and take my place around your alter,

singing a song of thanksgiving,
proclaiming all your wonders.

O Lord, I love the house where you dwell,
the place where your glory abides.

Do not sweep me away with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men

In whose hands are evil plots,
whose right hands are filled with gold.

As for me, I walk the path of perfection.
Redeem me and show me your mercy.

My foot stands on level ground :
I will bless the Lord in the assembly.

Second Reading

1 Peter 3,18-22

Christ himself died once and for all for sins, the upright for the sake of the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison. They refused to believe long ago, while God patiently waited to receive them, in Noah's time when the ark was being built. In it only a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water. It is the baptism corresponding to this water which saves you now -- not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience given to God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has entered heaven and is at God's right hand, with angels, ruling forces and powers subject to him.

Reading of the Gospel

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Mark 1,12-15

And at once the Spirit drove him into the desert and he remained there for forty days, and was put to the test by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels looked after him. After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the gospel from God saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.'


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory


Last Wednesday, after receiving the ashes on our head, we started together our Lenten pilgrimage towards Easter of Resurrection, the central event of our faith that involves the salvation of the entire world. It is no coincidence that the biblical passage from Genesis before us today concerns humanity in its entirety. The biblical author relates that after the flood ended, a rainbow appeared, uniting heaven and earth. And it is God himself who gives the interpretation, which concerns Him personally. The rainbow "is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations." God places this coloured arch in the sky, as a sign for Himself, as a warning not to forget the peoples of the earth, all peoples. We are still before the election of Israel, and that arch has become a universal sign of peace. Let this Lent be to all of us what the rainbow is to the Lord: a time to remind ourselves of our covenant with him, of his love for us.
Lent actually symbolises our whole life. This is what the evangelist Mark seems to suggest with his very short narrative that has been announced to us on this first Sunday of Lent. Mark - unlike Matthew and Luke - does not narrate the temptations of Jesus in the desert, he only suggests that Jesus throughout the forty days is with the wild beasts that hinder him but also with the angels that serve him. It is as if there are two positions confronting each other: Jesus, the Spirit, and the angels on one side and Satan and the wild beasts on the other. It is not the narrative of a moment, but the synthesis of Jesus' life in the wilderness of this world. Jesus is driven by the Spirit to enter the desert, the evangelist notes. We could say that it is a missionary choice, a spiritual one, to witness to God's love in the midst of the forces of evil. Jesus, the true friend of humankind, entered the world to fight the enemy of man, to defeat the one who sows division and makes this world of ours a desert of love.
In these forty days, as the violence of war continues to scourge the world, the Word of God accompanies us and exhorts us to allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, to convert our hearts, to empty them of fears, coldness, grudges, enmities, and fill them with his love. Thus, not only do we draw closer to Jesus, but we will also help others to meet him, to hear his Gospel and find the way to peace. A good heart makes the lives of many good. And this time is a time of grace to gather around Jesus and allow ourselves to be more generously involved in his mission: we will feel in our hearts the power of his Spirit that urges us to enter with him into the wilderness of this world, and we will also see the number of angels increase: by serving the poor and the weak together, we will defeat evil and its prince and hasten the coming of the kingdom of God and His peace.

Prayer is the heart of the life of the Community of Sant'Egidio and is its absolute priority. At the end of the day, every the Community of Sant'Egidio, large or small, gathers around the Lord to listen to his Word. The Word of God and the prayer are, in fact, the very basis of the whole life of the Community. The disciples cannot do other than remain at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary of Bethany, to receive his love and learn his ways (Phil. 2:5).
So every evening, when the Community returns to the feet of the Lord, it repeats the words of the anonymous disciple: " Lord, teach us how to pray". Jesus, Master of prayer, continues to answer: "When you pray, say: Abba, Father". It is not a simple exhortation, it is much more. With these words Jesus lets the disciples participate in his own relationship with the Father. Therefore in prayer, the fact of being children of the Father who is in heaven, comes before the words we may say. So praying is above all a way of being! That is to say we are children who turn with faith to the Father, certain that they will be heard.
Jesus teaches us to call God "Our Father". And not simply "Father" or "My Father". Disciples, even when they pray on their own, are never isolated nor they are orphans; they are always members of the Lord's family.
In praying together, beside the mystery of being children of God, there is also the mystery of brotherhood, as the Father of the Church said: "You cannot have God as father without having the church as mother". When praying together, the Holy Spirit assembles the disciples in the upper room together with Mary, the Lord's mother, so that they may direct their gaze towards the Lord's face and learn from Him the secret of his Heart.
 The Communities of Sant'Egidio all over the world gather in the various places of prayer and lay before the Lord the hopes and the sufferings of the tired, exhausted crowds of which the Gospel speaks ( Mat. 9: 3-7 ), In these ancient crowds we can see the huge masses of the modern cities, the millions of refugees who continue to flee their countries, the poor, relegated to the very fringe of life and all those who are waiting for someone to take care of them. Praying together includes the cry, the invocation, the aspiration, the desire for peace, the healing and salvation of the men and women of this world. Prayer is never in vain; it rises ceaselessly to the Lord so that anguish is turned into hope, tears into joy, despair into happiness, and solitude into communion. May the Kingdom of God come soon among people!