21 February, Sunday — Out with the old, in with Jesus!

1st Sunday of Lent

Gen 9:8-15
1 Pet 3:18-22
Mk 1:12-15

“That water is a type of the baptism which saves you now…”

Recently, a close relative of mine converted to Roman Catholicsm, and I was overjoyed at his entry into the sheepfold with Jesus as our shepherd. Catholic converts often recount in their testimonies about how amazing they felt when they were baptized. I realize that I often take my baptism for granted, since I was a baby when I was baptised; so I definitely have no memory at all of God’s graces that I felt and received on the day of my baptism. And while we renew our baptismal rites once every year during Easter, I have to admit that I do not really constantly remind myself of my identity in Christ.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, baptism is known as “the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word”, and we become “new” after having been baptized. Since we are in the season of Lent, the words of Saint Augustine are apt. He said, “No one can begin a new life, unless he repents of the old.” Likewise, we are called this Lent to recall our identity in Christ through our baptism (and confirmation, for those among us who have already been baptized by the Holy Spirit), and we should remember to repent our old habits during this sorrowful period. Not just those habits of giving up chocolates or sweets, but also perhaps spiritual habits of finding excuses to not pray during the day, scolding or snapping at people unnecessarily, or procrastinating. Also, while we may stumble along the way, we should not give up at repenting again and again. This process of continual cleansing and determination in striving to uphold our promises at baptism will definitely help us to lead a more fulfilling and meaningful Lenten season.

Brothers and sisters, this Lent, I am going to remember that I am always God’s daughter and I will be giving up on being impatient. What about you?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to remember our baptismal promises and to uphold them during Lent. Please also give us the grace and strength to never give up repenting our old habits and sins, and to die to ourselves. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank You for always being patient with us, allowing us the opportunities to renew our baptismal promises and to repent and change for the better whenever we fail and stumble. Amen.

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