Homily for Sunday February 18 , 2018
God’s Promise in the Rainbow
A Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent 2018, February 18, 2018
Based on the readings from: Genesis 9:8-16, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:12-15
By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFM
www.orderfranciscansofmercy.org
www.missionstsergius.org
Divinemercyparish@msn.com
 
 
The first reading for the first Sunday in Lent is from the book of Genesis and tells of God’s promise to Noah and his sons after the great flood.  It begins with these words; “Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Since we trust in God we can know that the end of the world will not be from floods. It is the next portions of the reading I find more significant for those who have chosen a rainbow for their symbol. 
The Rainbow Nation because it symbolized the diversity of ethnic groups that make up the world.  The GLBTQI2S community because it symbolizes the diversity of God’s children regarding sexual orientation.
I believe that we should be encouraged by God’s promise. “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."(Genesis 9:8-15)
Whenever we see the rainbow symbol we need to remember that God created every living thing on the face of the earth and has made a covenant with all living things.  Since God creates people with their sexual orientation we should never discriminate against them for it recalling that all that God created is good and had a purpose in God’s plan and we NEVER be so bold as to question God’s purpose for if we do, we give ourselves over to Satan which is exactly why he places doubt in our minds as temptation to lose faith in God just as he tempted Eve and Adam. Challenging Gog is exactly how Satan was cast out of Heaven. Satan felt he could challenge God and be as great as God.  Ever since then he has attempted to tempt every human creature God has created even Jesus Christ as we hear in the Gospel reading from Mark 1:12-15 which tells how Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert.
That fact should be a warning to us that Satan will not stop trying to have us lose faith in God.
The closer we are to God the more and greater the temptations.
Satan tempts us with the same things he tempted Christ; power, fame, wealth, the very same tools he uses against all of us, he explores our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
As Pope Francis reminded us in his first homily on the Lenten Season;
“What does this invitation to poverty, a life of evangelical poverty, mean to us today? First of all, it shows us how God works. He does not reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth but rather in weakness and poverty: 'though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor …'. Christ, the eternal Son of God, one with the Father in power and glory, chose to be poor; he came amongst us and drew near to each of us; he set aside his glory and emptied himself so that he could be like us in all things. …… By making himself poor, Jesus did not seek poverty for its own sake but, 'that by his poverty you might become rich'. This is no mere play on words or a catch phrase. Rather, it sums up God’s logic, the logic of love, the logic of the incarnation and the cross….. Christ’s love is different! When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptized by John, he did so not because he was in need of repentance, or conversion; he did it to be among people who need forgiveness, among us sinners, and to take upon himself the burden of our sins. In this way he chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery…….In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. …… In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.
The pope went on to state the kinds of things that Satan uses in this day and age to tempt people, especially the young, in the same way he tempted Christ. 
He particularly mentioned fame, desire for wealth, and the curse of addition to alcohol, drugs, gambling and pornography; How many people no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future, how many have lost hope! And how many are plunged into this destitution by unjust social conditions, by unemployment, which takes away their dignity as breadwinners, and by lack of equal access to education and health care. If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us though Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us.
The Gospel story ends with these words; “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
“THE GOOD NEWS” exactly what was the good news? It was that Almighty God is a merciful, forgiving, and infinitely loving God and we can achieve the promise of eternal life by living as Christ taught us with these words; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Luke 10:27)
Lent is the time when we are called to take stock of ourselves Asking ourselves how well we are following the teachings Christ gave us on how to live. 
Every time we see a rainbow we should recall that we are called by God to live our lives, so we hurt no one and extend our love of God to everyone we encounter.
We need to applaud God’s diversity and know His love has no boundaries and is given freely to all who seek it with purity of heart.
We need to daily live our promise made in Baptism.
Always remember at the end of every storm there is a rainbow to remind us of God’s love for us. 
Let us imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty.
While fasting we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up that will help to enrich others by our fasting.
I close with the prayer Pope Francis closed his 1st Sunday of Lent homily with; I pray that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you safe.        AMEN