February 18 – First Sunday of Lent

As a kid, I loved to watch the Tobey Maguire Spiderman with my dad and my brother. Because of this, I was dismayed when they decided to reboot the series with a new actor, Andrew Garfield, and I refused to watch it. After this, it was rebooted once again with another actor, Tom Holland. I thought, “If I didn’t watch the Andrew Garfield reboot, I’m definitely not going to watch this one.” But in the most recent Spiderman movie, No Way Home, something surprising happened. (This movie came out in 2021, so I don’t feel guilty about giving spoilers). The filmmakers decided to bring back the two other Spiderman actors, and make them part of the story, as Spidermen from different universes. As a result, their stories continued and were even able to find satisfying conclusions.

At first glance, it seems like God is trying to reboot humanity in the Great Flood, having Noah replacing Adam in the starring role of the father of humanity. And if this were the case, it would seem to be a mistake. Noah ultimately has his own fall like Adam, and evil still persists in the heart of man. But God is not really trying to reboot humanity. If anything, He is showing us that this is impossible. In the First Reading, God renews the covenant with creation that He had created with Adam and promises never to allow a Great Flood to destroy humanity in the future. He invites Noah to remember Adam, giving him an opportunity to return to Adam’s goodness while also having a chance to move beyond his mistakes.

Throughout salvation history, we see many more figures arise like Noah, receiving a chance to enter into relationship with God, but to greater or lesser degrees falling short. Finally, in the Gospel, we come to Jesus, and perhaps once again, it seems like a reboot. Like Adam, Jesus is tempted by Satan, and like Adam, Jesus lives in harmony with angels and wild beasts. But unlike Adam, Jesus conquers Satan, and as He does this, He is not trying to erase the memory of Adam. Instead, He is beginning a new chapter in the story, in fact the culmination of the story. Jesus takes up everything that has come before Him, but rather than erasing it or repeating it, He fulfills it.

As we begin Lent, it might seem like it’s time for a reboot, to give up what we’ve done in the past and start again. As tempting as it might be, we shouldn’t try to start with a blank slate. Instead, we should see it as a new chapter in our story, a chapter where we begin again, while also keeping in mind all that has gone before us to help us to avoid similar sins in the future. This Lent is the latest part of our story, and with God’s help, we don’t have to reboot it, but instead write the most interesting chapter so far.

Father Frank