Lenten Vespers, Week 1

Sister Dorothy Maxwell, of the Sisters of Saint Dominic, Blauvelt, preaching at Lenten Vespers.
Sister Dorothy Maxwell, of the Sisters of Saint Dominic, Blauvelt, preaching at Lenten Vespers.

The First Reading For The First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8-15

The first reading for today’s Liturgy is taken from the book of Genesis and informs us of the covenant made with Noah after he obeyed the directive to build an ark, making him and all on the boat with him the only survivors of a flood that covered the whole planet. God promised that never again would there be such a flood. The sign to be given for all ages to come would be a bow, which we all know as the rainbow that appears when the sun comes out after it rains.

What a wonderful way God uses to remind us of the everlasting promise that life will never be destroyed, but do we look for that rainbow when the sun reappears? If after today we remember that God has a reminder for us to keep that God-Noah Covenant whenever we see a rainbow, we are seeing our responsibility to continue to follow the God who saves.

Noah was told how to build this famous ark; taking his wife and three sons and their wives and a male and female of all kinds of birds and beasts. Noah did as he was commanded, and God told him that there were going to be forty days and nights of rain. Higher and higher above the earth rose the waters until all the highest mountains everywhere were submerged, and all creatures that stirred perished.

After many days, the water subsided, and the ark came to rest on the Mountain of Ararat. Noah sent out the birds to see if there was a place to land, and finally a dove returned with an olive branch in its beak. When he sent it off again and it did not return, he knew it was safe to return to the earth.

Aware of all we are learning of the vastness of the cosmos. We marvel at what is known and now we realize that the mystery of God’s indwelling presence will always be present. Theology and Science make coordinated efforts to help us bounce from belief to incredible wonder at all that exists and will exist.

For years I have had a little piece of glass in my window which the sun’s rays break through making many mini rainbows on my walls. In this beautiful world God created, sunlight or white light is a mixture of all the rainbow colors. The different rainbow colors are essentially mixed together to result in white color. When light passes from one medium to another of a different density, as in from air to water, the light blends. This is known as refraction of light.

Now that we all know this, we too are mediums - people like Noah and Jesus and the many good people we know. The light of our faith that shines within us can refract the hidden Jesus in our world. The ever-present Jesus is hidden to even the most religious in the world at times, as the drone travels above us, broadcasting pictures of violence and destruction. We could conclude that the good in this world is all happening underground, but it is not. The good is seen if we use our vision with the eye of finding the good in ourselves and each other. Beautiful rainbows of hope can appear before our eyes, if we focus on the love and happiness in the world, rather than what we see in the daily news feeds.

Returning to prehistoric times and living without the conveniences we now have is not going to happen, but living in harmony with all that is created is our call. It had to be inconvenient for Noah, the wife, children, and the animals to be cooped up under the torrents of rain but look at the end result. The task of Lent may be to examine our lifestyle and discover what inconveniences we need to experience for the sake of the survival of all life.

We thank Pope Francis for Laudato Si and all those who educate and show us how to go forward in order to save our very selves. May we step up our efforts in this call for salvation this Lenten Season and be white light and mediums making rainbow connections.

Dorothy Maxwell, OP
Sister of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt

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