“The book that yields profit of ten thousand fold”

First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15

God said to Noah and to his sons with him: "See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth." God added: "This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings."

1 Peter 3:18-22

Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

A few years ago, I received a traditional red scroll of Chinese calligraphy for Lunar New Year on which was written “The capital that yields profit of ten thousand fold”. The author was playing with words as “capital” could also refer to a book. On the scroll, a Bible was painted next to the word “capital”. This is such a timely reminder as we celebrate Chinese New Year that the Bible is truly the book of life and truth and the beacon to light our way. If we follow it and live it out, we will gather rich spiritual benefits beyond measure.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we hear that Jesus is in the wilderness for 40 days tempted by Satan. St. Mark does not elaborate on Jesus’ response to Satan’s temptations. We learn from the Gospel of St. Luke that Jesus responds by referencing the scripture. When He is hungry after the 40 days and tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread, Jesus answers him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone'” (Luke 4:4). When Satan asks Jesus to worship him in return for the power and glory of all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus answers “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve'” (Luke 4:8). When Satan challenges Him to throw himself from the parapet of the temple, saying that the angels will guard him if He is the Son of God, Jesus said, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test'” (Luke 4:12).

Living in the uncertainties of this world, often lost in the trials and tribulations of life, how often are we tempted to find comfort in our worldly desires? We may lose faith in God who seem to be too far away to listen to us. However, temptations from the outside world or from our own desires could be suppressed when our faith is strong. When our faith is weak, these temptations can overpower us to make bad choices in life. They lead us to sin. How can we prepare ourselves to endure these temptations? The answer is quite obvious. The Bible can indeed prepare, strengthen and inspire us. It can fortify and enrich our faith and help us resist temptation and sin.

This is also the first Sunday of Lent. What would you do to prepare yourself spiritually for Christ’s resurrection? Would you challenge yourself to finish reading one of the shorter books in the Bible during Lent 2018?

Posted: February 18, 2018

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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