God’s Promise in the Rainbow
A Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent February 21, 2021
Based on the readings from: Genesis 9:8-16,Psalm 25, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:12-15
By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFM
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 among them The Rainbow Nation and the GLBTQI communities because it
symbolized the diversity of ethnic groups that make up the world. 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 has created people with their sexual
orientation we should NEVER be so bold as to question God’s purpose for in doing so, we give ourselves over to
Satan which is exactly why he places doubt in our minds as a temptation to lose faith in God.
Challenging God is exactly why Satan was cast out of Heaven. Satan felt he could challenge God and be as great
as God. Ever since then he is continually tempting every human being God has created, even trying to tempt
Jesus Christ as we hear in today’s Gospel reading from Mark 1:12.
Since Satan had the chutzpah to try and tempt Christ, Second personification of God, should be a warning to us
that Satan will not stop tempting us in the hope that we lose faith in God.
The closer we are to God the more and greater the temptations. Almost every saint has spoken about the
temptations they have had from Satan.
Satan tempted Christ by promising Christ power, fame, wealth, popularity, the same tools he uses against us. He
explores our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and then tries to use them in his effort to have us abandon our trust
and faith in God or to commit a sin which would separate us from God.
As Pope Francis reminded us in his first homily on the Lenten Season;
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. ……
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.
It is in the poor and outcast that we see Christ’s face and it is in loving and helping the poor, sick, aged, hungry
and homeless that we extend our love and service to God.
When our efforts are directed toward ending all the violations of human dignity; bullying, discrimination, social
injustice and inequality in the world, which are so often, the cause all the ills that our society has. When power,
luxury and money become idols and take priority over the need for fair distribution of wealth we are failing to live
in accord with the teachings of Christ and our consciousness and priorities need to be converted toward justice,
equality, simplicity and charitable sharing.
The pope went on to state the kinds of things that Satan uses to tempt people, especially the young, are the same
he used in tempting Christ; fame, wealth, bodily gratification often through addiction to alcohol, drugs, food,
gambling, and pornography.
How many people have lost hope, especially in this last year with the pandemic, the political and racial
divisiveness and unrest and the uncertainty of when things will return to socalled normal that existed before this
How many have been 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 most assuredly 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 is 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. We need to make sure we are giving back to God that tithe or 10 percent
of our income to support our religious ministries and social service nonprofits.
Every time we see a rainbow, we should recall that we are called by God to live our lives extending 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