First Sunday of Lent – Year B
February 21, 2021 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, Palm Springs CA
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Genesis 9:8-15 | Psalm 25:4-9
I Peter 3:18-22 | Mark 1:12-15
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Have you ever seen a rainbow? How about a double rainbow?
I can recall the first time I ever experienced seeing a double rainbow as Fr. David and I were driving home from our condo in Palm Springs to Anaheim in 1994.
As we approached Cabazon on Interstate 10 west, the magnificent double rainbow appeared in the sky above us.
A double rainbow occurs when the light is reflected twice in the drop. It means you can see two different reflections coming from different angles.
A double rainbow is considered a symbol of transformation and is a sign of good fortune in eastern cultures. The first arc represents the material world and the second arc signifies the spiritual realm. A double rainbow forms due to an optical illusion when sunlight enters a raindrop and creates two internal reflections before the rays exit the droplet.
According to ask.com, in a single rainbow, sunlight spreads into a spectrum of colors from red to violet. But in a double rainbow, the colors are inverted with red appearing on the inside and violet on the outside.
According to Chinese mythology, red represents the feet, and violet symbolizes the head. Therefore, a single rainbow signifies a human descending from heaven to earth. A double rainbow due to its reversal of colors represents the movement from earth to heaven and is considered to be a sign of future success. Rainbows are used symbolically in mythology, religion, and the arts. It is said that the Irish leprechaun hid his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and in Genesis, a rainbow is part of Noah’s story, as we read today, in which God promises never to create another destructive global flood. Rainbow flags have been used to symbolize hope and social change and are a symbol of gay pride.
We can all attest to what a truly remarkable experience it is to view such natural splendor as rainbows!
Our readings today, on this first Sunday of Lent, encourage us to prepare for our journey of renewing our covenant with God during this Lenten Season.
A covenant in ancient times was the promise or agreement between God and the Israelites in which God promised to
protect them if they kept His law and were faithful to Him.
Today, a covenant refers to a written agreement or promise between two or more parties for the performance of some action, the deed conveying the land, or a restriction on the use of a property.
Our first reading from Genesis tells of Noah’s covenant with God to protect all living creatures. It tells of the rainbow that appears in the sky as a sign of the covenant. The rainbow is a sign of God’s faithfulness and also a reminder that God can and will judge sin.
Today, just as is explained in Genesis over two thousand years ago, we still see rainbows in the sky as signs of God’s covenant.
In our second reading from 1 Peter, we are told of God’s New Covenant with us through Jesus at baptism. During baptism, we are restored to God as we renew our covenant in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Our Gospel today from Mark reminds us that just as Jesus was tested during His forty days in the desert, we also will be tested during the forty days of Lent. And as the Holy Spirit was there to guide Jesus, we need to pray and ask God to give us the strength of courage, humility, and patience during this time.
We learn through the Bible and the Church that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Revelation: everything God wants us to know for our ultimate salvation is revealed through the life and words of Jesus. He is our New Covenant and New Law since He has fulfilled the purpose of the Old Covenant and the Old Law. Jesus is priest, prophet, and King and the fulfillment of salvation.
Israel was meant to be a blessing for all nations or a light leading them to communion with God. And Jesus is the One who fulfills this covenant by becoming the perfect mediator between God and humanity. God gave Israel the Law, or Torah to teach them how to live in communion with Him and each other. Jesus fulfills the Law by accomplishing its purpose through His death and resurrection. And Saint Paul clarifies for us that it isn’t following the laws perfectly that saves us, rather it is faith in the lawgiver, Jesus.
Lent is a time when we must deepen our awareness of our Covenant with God. Lent is a time to believe more deeply in God and to listen to the Word of God and meditate on what it means in our lives.
“Do you want to live life to the fullest?” Jesus asks us. “Do you want your life to be marked by generosity, selflessness, fidelity, and love?… Then open your hearts to me, let me draw you more deeply into communion with me, let me live in you and work in you and transform you into the person you want to be, the person you were created to be.”
This is Jesus’ invitation to all of us as we begin our Lenten Journey. Let us all open our hearts and say “Yes” to this invitation. Amen.