Year B: First Sunday of Lent

Second Reading: 1 Peter 3: 18-22


St Peter draws on the experience of Noah and his family and equates it with Baptism. In the prayers of the blessing of the baptismal waters at the Easter Vigil, there is also a reference to the waters of the great flood. These waters are seen as a sign of the waters of baptism that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness.


Baptism does not wash away physical dirt - but does mark the laying down of sin and the promise to live fully the new life offered to us. We make the pledge from, as St Peter says, a “good conscience” - a deliberate choice for good.


This is only possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus - and our baptism draws us into that mystery too.


St Peter offers an interesting insight into the vastness of that mystery that shows that it is not bound to one time or place - or even to one dimension of living. He speaks of the Risen Jesus visiting spirits in prison and suggests that these are the spirits of those who refused to believe that God was making an end to sin through the waters of the Great Flood. Their refusal to believe meant that they lost their lives and, Peter suggests, that their souls were held until they could be redeemed. Their liberation came with the presence of Jesus whose risen life is not a return to earth - but to a life that is eternal - in which future and past no longer have any meaning.


Like the words in the Gospel - the rainbow still appearing in the sky - this reading reminds us that we are part of something far greater than even the greatest mind can explain.


We are part of a story whose beginning lies deep in the past and whose end we cannot begin to see - and yet, the whole of it is somehow present at once. Noah is as much our neighbour as the person who sits next to us at Mass - as is the 30th century Christian!


What does it mean for me?

What hope does the visit of Jesus to those lost in the Flood hold for you and those you love who have died?

How can you live your part in this story more fully? 

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