Daily Reading for March 1 • The First Sunday in Lent
Soon after Jesus had been baptized, he performed a fast of forty days by himself, and he taught and informed us by his example that, after we have received forgiveness of sins in baptism, we should devote ourselves to vigils, fasts, prayers and other spiritually fruitful things, lest when we are sluggish and less vigilant the unclean spirit expelled from our heart by baptism may return, and finding us fruitless in spiritual riches, weigh us down again with a sevenfold pestilence, and our last state would then be worse than the first. Let us be wary that we do not relight the fires of old obsessions which would wreck us on our new voyage. Whatever sort of flaming sword it is that guards the doorway of paradise has been already effectively extinguished for each of the faithful in the font of baptism. For the unfaithful, however, the gate remains always formidable, and also for those falsely called faithful though they have not been chosen, since they have no fear of entangling themselves in sins after baptism. It is as though the same fire put out in baptism has been rekindled after it had been once extinguished.
From Bede’s Homilies on the Gospels, quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament II, Mark, edited by Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall (Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998).