Homily for February 22

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Homily for the First Sunday of Lent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

So, a rainbow for Noah and his family.
Who doesn’t love a rainbow?
Who wouldn’t love a rainbow right now?
Even if no one has ever found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow,
we still love rainbows.

A few years ago my younger cousin, Michael, died
and as his body was being removed from his home
his daughter Alexis looked up and saw a rainbow in the sky.
She took a picture of it which she posted on FaceBook.
And on seeing it just about everyone in my family said the same thing,
 “That’s Michael’s rainbow.”
Now, there might have been a rainbow the day before,
or the day after,
but to eyes of faith, searching the heavens in prayer,
that rainbow, that day, was a sign of God’s hovering presence
at an hour when our questions so far outnumbered
any answers we had.
Upon seeing the photo online,
Michael’s young niece came to a theological conclusion, declaring:
 “So that’s how people get to heaven: they walk on a rainbow.”
It’s actually not bad theology.

In the first scripture today, after the floodwaters have subsided
and Noah, his family, and all the animals are safe again on dry land,
God makes a covenant with Noah and names the rainbow
the sign of his agreement and his promise,
his promise that never again will all life be destroyed.

A rainbow does appear as a bridge, from here to - there.
And that’s what God is promising:
that no matter how great the flood, no matter how deep the waters,
no matter how sweeping the devastation,
we will not be lost in it all  - we will be saved.

There will be a bridge, there will be a way through and a way over
any and all the troubles we face in our lives.
There will be a bridge to help us cross,  to pass through
and to pass over
- even to pass over and through death into life.

Today, about three and a half millennia after Genesis was written,
our scientific knowledge moves us past the primitive story
of Noah, the ark, the animals and the flood –       
but not beyond the truth it was intended to convey.

The truth of the story in Genesis is this:
that God promises to provide for us
what we’re unable to provide for ourselves,
that when our lives are flooded with trouble and turmoil
the Lord will offer himself as an ark of safe passage,
as the rainbow bridge we can cross with confidence -
even through death to life.

And if, with that last statement,
you feel I’ve led you down some pious path
then let me bring you back to where I began all of this:
 “Rainbows…  Who doesn’t love a rainbow?”

Is there not a wisdom in the scriptures choosing a rainbow
as the sign of God’s saving love for us?
Is there not something about a rainbow
that makes us look again and think twice about its relationship
to our day, our problems, our troubles, our hopes?
When we see a rainbow is it not a bridge beyond our experience
to something of hope?

Rainbows come and rainbows go.
We don’t see all of them
because we’re often too busy to look out, to look up.
But when we see them,
something within us is touched, even changed.

And not just with rainbows!
In a powerful storm, in an awesome sunrise or a stunning sunset,
in the white silence of new fallen snow,
in the peaceful rocking of waves we find at the shore,
in the breathtaking view from a mountain top:
in so many ways the world around us touches our souls
and invites to wonder again at the relationship we share
with the world and its Creator.

Lent is a time to look for rainbows:
to consider again how Jesus is the ark,
the safe passage promised us through life’s troubles.

Jesus is the bridge that spans from this day’s problems
to a peace that would be far beyond our grasp,
but for the planks of his Cross,
which we cling to in the flood waters for dear life.

Lent is a time to look for rainbows of the Lord’s promise in our hearts
where the light of Christ is refracted through the tears of our pain.

Lent is a time to look to the promise,
the rainbow of the Lord’s covenant,
bridging from our day-to-day struggles    
to a peace that only God can give.

The covenant of God’s love shines in rainbows, yes,
but the beauty, the depth and the truth of his promise,
sealed in the sacrifice of the Cross,
is never more beautifully revealed
than in Bread and Cup of this Table.

The Eucharist is the sign of the new covenant
bridging the human and the divine in Body and Blood of Christ.

For here in this sacrament the saving love of God is at hand
and we are made one in communion with him
whose love for us knows no bounds and has no end.

As a sign of his covenant, the promise of his love,
God sets his rainbow in the heavens.


Who doesn’t love a rainbow?

So that’s how people get to heaven: they walk on a rainbow!
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1 comment:

  1. I kept thinking you were going to sing "Rainbow Connection" as a wrap up to your homily!



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