God’s Faithfulness – First Sunday of Lent

Source: nationalgeographic.com

We have begun the sacred season of Lent in this very strange year of COVID. Wasn’t Lent affected last year as well? I remember fist hearing about the novel coronavirus in January of last year. And here we are! It’s Lent once again. Some would suggest that we have been living in the spirit of Lent for at least a year.

Despite the fact that so much of our language about Lent deals with sin and brokenness and mercy, this season celebrates God’s tremendous love for us, and invites us to extend that same merciful love to others and to all creation. It’s really a beautiful season, but we often make the mistake of thinking that all is gloom during this season.

Today’s readings include the symbol of the rainbow. The rainbow has become associated with peace, with hope and with gay pride. But its primary use is in the Old Testament story of Noah and the flood, symbolizing God’s promises of faithfulness and mercy.

The Book of Genesis reminds us today of the covenant between God and God’s people. God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

The rainbow is all the more powerful as a symbol because it is reflected from the storm itself. That certainly has significant symbolism for our personal lives. The rainbow of God’s peace is only possible because of the earlier storms and turmoil in the skies and in our lives.

Most of the rainfall in Palestine is in the form of short heavy showers and is often accompanied by the rainbow. Beautiful double bows are often seen, and occasionally the moon is bright enough to produce the bow. The point is that while the rainbow is hung in the sky God must be at peace with His people.

I think that it is in clear and evident symbols that we are reminded of God’s faithfulness to God’s people, and God’s faithfulness to each one of us personally.

Many of my close friends are aware of my own expression of sky wisdom … call it lunacy. For as long as I can remember, I have associated the appearance of the sliver of the new moon with God’s faithfulness. I come out in the evening and its appearance tells me that all is right and that God is with me.

I feel the same thing when I go outside in the pre-dawn morning and see the moon setting. If I were to get a tattoo, it would feature the sliver of the new moon. I believe that we all need simple things like this, to remind us that God is with us. God is faithful and all is right with my life! What helps you to hold on to the certainty of God’s love?

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 01:29h, 21 February Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • Jeanette Woodley
    Posted at 04:13h, 21 February Reply

    I know this is a rhetorical question that you ask but I wanted to respond. What helps me to hold on to God’s love for me is when I look upon a crucifix. A crucifix is a constant reminder that Jesus laid down His life for love of us and for me personally. It also is a wonderful Lenten practice to meditate on Christ’s Passion and Death while gazing upon one. Have a blessed Lenten Season Fr Philip!

  • graeme quinlan
    Posted at 04:16h, 21 February Reply

    Lent for me is a time of cleansing. emptying the soul of all that has torn us apart from our relationship with God. But let us rejoice in the knowledge that Gods love for us is so much the rainbow that covers us with His Infinite Love . God is with us , rejoice and be glad.

  • John Montague
    Posted at 08:44h, 21 February Reply

    Philip, Thank you for acknowledging the rainbow is a symbol of gay pride. It is still rare for gay, lesbian, and trans Canadian Catholics to receive acknowledgement that we are part of the catholic community.

  • Bernice Dookhan-Khan
    Posted at 11:01h, 21 February Reply

    Thanks Fr. Philip. Indeed, “God is with us. God is faithful and all is right with my life! “ Blessings for a joyful and holy Lent.

  • Dee Sproule
    Posted at 15:16h, 23 February Reply

    Beautiful reflection, Philip. Thank you for starting this year’s Lenten season off on such a note of consolation! Peace be with you.

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