Lent is an apt time for reflection and introspection. The Readings are so designed as to let us delve deep into our Christian being. They recall the times when God interacted with man and, closer to our times, sent His Only Son to the world. They take us back to the basics, showing a consistent theme running from the beginning of humanity to our days.

The First Reading (Gen 9: 8-15) speaks of the first Biblical covenant between God and humankind, in the person of Noah. After the deluge, when a new humanity arose, purified by the waters, God promised to never again flood the earth. God stooped down to hug humanity in a touching scene of an everlasting love.

It may be recalled that the Noahic covenant had become necessary after the one established with Adam had failed. In the Gospel text (Mk 1: 12-15) we encounter the Second Adam, Jesus Christ: He is tempted in the wilderness, just as Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, but unlike them, Jesus stands up to the forces of evil.

Our Lord’s exhortation – ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel’ – is thus a clarion call to reflection and introspection that will lead to repentance. The wilderness is a privileged place for Jesus’ encounter with the Father; the forty days of solitude that He spent there evoke the forty days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai and the forty years of God’s people in the desert. Our Lenten season is a reenactment of those days.

You and I live in a worldly wilderness, a moral desert, a spiritual wasteland. But we may rest assured that, like the angels who ministered to Jesus while he was tempted by Satan, our Baptism helps us to withstand the evil forces of the world. We are not told explicitly what the ‘kingdom of God’ consists of, but a certain realisation wells up in the deepest recesses of our hearts, in the form of our inner conversion; it is a promise that we will one day partake in the merits of the Lord’s Resurrection.

Finally, St Peter in the Second Reading (1 Pet 3: 18-22) draws a parallel between the water that saved Noah’s eight and the water of Baptism that saves us. It speaks volumes of the Lord’s faithfulness. As the Psalm sings, ‘Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.’

Our prayer therefore should be that the Lord teach us His ways and let us walk in His truth; that He have mercy on us and remember us. There is no place for doubt, for the Lord is good and upright. However disastrous the circumstances of our lives may be, He shows the path to those who stray. Lent is thus that period par excellence when, with a contrite heart, we may walk right back into God’s bosom.