The Sunday 2/18 homily extended out to a full meditation. +Fr. John Barry
(The Sunday homily of the 9:00 am, 12:15 pm and 4:00 pm Masses was a 7-minute one, cutting out various paragraphs and words of the below text—but in this meditation I extend it out here for your pondering over, as a long Lenten meditation…)
[Genesis 9] God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that… came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood… This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant… I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign.”
[1st Peter 3] Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God… (He is the Son of God Who also once) patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now…(into) the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God…
[Mark, chapter 1] Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” =======================================================================
On this holiday weekend with a snowfall, you likely won’t be seeing any rainbows outside—yet I’d like to talk of rainbows and their meaning with God and for people of covenant faith. From today’s first reading, I highlight the verse: “This is the sign… I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign.”
Religiously, or spiritually, the rainbow is a covenant sign. This first rainbow was given, as such, to the trustful Noah, and his family. Faith leads to rainbows. Noah and family trusted and obeyed God, and they were delivered, and they were given a rainbow. It showed to them God’s blessing for their trust. It began an agreement that God found with them (and now, us) to be people of covenant faith and in new friendship with their Maker. Yes, there is happiness is God’s rainbow to us!
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign.
The rainbow sign of God communicates that He (They/The Trinity) has a promise to us to work for us and with us, and it is an invitation into the new offer for us to work for and with God.
Noah and his family and the floating zoo of creatures were given a new beginning. Noah represented in the earliest of theGenesis (Old Testament) times what would be afforded wondrously in the Coming of the
Christ, which was an outstanding new beginning, even unto eternal life. Jesus is the Rainbow Covenant Sign Supreme in His coming and in all that He fulfilled. The ark is His Body, for the faithful to dwell in it (which we announce the Church as being this vessel). The dove of the new ark of Christ’ Body is the Holy Spirit. The water is that of our Baptismal Gift, for deliverance into a new beginning. It all works from the old into the new, quite well.
The covenant rainbow sign is a reminder that God wants to work in agreement with us now, even while our sins, and those many great ones of the world, might call for a just punishment. God sets his bow first with Noah as a sign of patience and mercy and goodness. That is what our epistle lines from 1st Peter 3 proclaim today in Lent’s first Sunday. God indeed would come and offer Peace and Good Will in His Communion with us (recall how the Archangel Gabriel announced this Peace and Good Will as come down to us, on earth, in this Savior Jesus). God has freely offered for us to share in covenant life with Him. That, now, leaves us to choose to act upon it. Covenants have two sides—God’s and ours. God has done Their part. For our part, we have decisions to make to the divine offer, to enter more into trustful relationship with God, and to abide in The Way of the Lord.
In Washington’s Basilica to Mary, and upon the main mosaic figure of Christ there, it shows Him flowing in Mercy out in appeal to us, and the rainbow is in the sky, and all its colors spread out, and the waters of baptism are depicted, and the angelic host serve in Glory before the Triumphant Lord, Who has suffered, that we lost sinners on earth might obtain Mercy, and the lost creation be saved. In this upper church of the basilica, Mary Immaculate is placed upon a baldachin in the high sanctuary right in front of the mosaic, as if the artists have here to say: ‘Look here. Christ Jesus has an offer out to you. He reigns. He forgives. He saves. Are you getting into Christ Jesus?’ Mary leads us to the Son. He is Peace and Good Will to us. One of Noah’s great descendants was Joseph, the patriarch. He was known to be robed in a coat of many colors, in celebration of the favor of God. I think of him here in this homily today, for God wants us, too, to wear the colors of His favor.
There is a Spanish religious phrase for encountering God in His multi-colored, multi-faceted friendship, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus. That phrase is “De Colores.”
It’s a greeting and a blessing, meaning: “The God of many colors be upon you.”
Jesus, like a morning rooster, announces the Favor of the Lord is upon Him, and upon those who join into His Body of believers. Let us awake to it more and more. The God of many colors comes to us, via Jesus, in His Spirit, and in Loving Fellowship with the Eternal Father.
In this homily image I offer you, can you see Jesus as like a Rainbow come as a Person, come down, then, from Above? He is God’s greatest Sign of Friendship, even after a miserable rain of sorrow and sin has poured down through the ages on this world. Yet—Glory be! The Son is come out; His colors of covenant love and promise to us are given. Do you see them? His grace is outpoured!
Let’s review the 7 basic rainbow-y colors (or those of a prism): Green, blue, yellow, orange, red, purple and indigo. What might God communicate through them?
Green is clearly a great color of God. It’s the sign of life and of hope. It was chosen for every blade of grass, for many a leaf or needle on a tree. Without green many animals would have little to graze on. Just look out over all the spring countryside and you’ll see that green is nearly everywhere. It reminds us that God’s sign of life is seen about all over. Green is nature, as touched by the Lord. Lent means “spring” and the greening and new life of promise is shown by God, even Psalm 23 tells of the green meadows of new life and paradise.
Blue is a good color of God, as well. It’s as valuable as green, for clear bluish water is life. Consider the grand blue sky and deep blue sea. Water is the basis of living things, and it is drawn up to the sky from the deep sea where the clouds recycle it onto all the greenery. The vast blue of sea and sky speak of the greatness of the Creator. The blue sky also hosts the sun, as its star in the middle, literally (!), which is the energy of the earth, and the other faraway stars orbit up there, too, and the moon, too, provides us peace and serenity and the promise of something more.
Yellow has to chime in—she’ll take the color credit for the sun, which then helps all to see the blue and green planet. Yellow would like us not to get all too serious here. Lightness is so important, which includes enlightenment, warmth, love, laughter, and mirth. Yellow is really a light (and lightness) for the way, and we would be good to see how we are all being led for a good direction, by God. Yellow is caution, just so to make the right decision as we go, looking about in wisdom. Yellow is mellow, as in calm down, but then again sharp, when needed, like a tart lemon to flavor things, but yellow is also quite happy, as in sunflowers and buttercups and a smiley face emoji. Yellow keeps us bright, and away from dull and dreary.
Orange wants his place now to speak. He’s the color of health and strength. He’s so precious because he supports the needs of human life. He may not be as prominent or noticed as other colors, but he certainly is important, like in carrying the vitamins that support life on earth. He reminds us that his presence gives us energy and vitality. Perhaps orange can be our connection to all human flesh and other living creatures—and the fact that the Word became flesh, and even share bodily with us as Emmanuel, the God Who is with us. Even while the Lord is Spirit, too. That’s the obvious glorious side. Orange likes to sometimes show us a peak of glory, when he steps forward in horizons at sunrise and sunset, when the orange touch of beauty is so striking. In moments like that, you could almost hear God say: ‘Orange you glad you are alive? ☺ He also blends in a bit with yellow for sun color. He’s also a fan of red.
Speaking of Red, it is a powerful color, as in fire and in blood. Red is passion and love, and the heart of the matter of life. Red is bravery. It’s in the blood of red, and this one color flows and moves and in some ways is all in charge. In other times it just blends in to lend beauty, next to the other colors. There’s the red rose, the poppy and the poinsettia. Red rocks are unique and cool, the lava in the earth is hot, but red in the blood of the Cross of Jesus, in His saving body and blood—and That is very special. Red is real. Truly the Heart of Life is Jesus’ Red.
Purple (or Violet) should have its say here in the spectrum. He is your color of expectation and hope, like you are having in this season of Lent right now. Purple leads us to the Easter Jesus, in the humility of now. Purple may be humble, but it can be recognized as the color of royalty and power. Purple is a color sign of authority and wisdom. So God is Regal, Kingly, Lord of All. He invites people to join into His kingdom, and so we wear the purple in our being as the invited sharers of His kingdom. That is a special invite. Purple is a color of notice, too, as women in purple cloth do know that it comes from the long-time unique and valuable dye, and saints do love it, like St. Lydia the Purpler did in the Acts of the Apostles. She wore it and sold it, and used sale profits to support the apostles by it. Purple is used for dressing up in this world, yet with the inner knowledge, that, heaven’s robe and garb will be a brilliant light, and so we long to be clothed as a saint above.
Indigo will get the last word here. It is between purple and blue in the rainbow wheel, and it is the brightest of the bunch. It is a bold, yet secretive color; powerful, yet fairly unseen or noticed. Indigo might call itself the color of silence. It might say it’s the color of truth, for without indigo, we could all be just seeing things on the outside, on the shallow surface top. Indigo probes within. It says that it’s the color is for thinking, praying, and discovering what is new. Indigo is a color that MotherMary likes. Indigo is for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace. It is a color of the mystical and of religious mysteries.
I would have you here just to consider how God is in these colors of the Rainbow Prism. Jesus IS in these Colors for Life. He paints on the canvas of our lives. His Spirit splashes them upon us and on the whole world, physically and spiritually. The Father looks upon the good work being done upon us.
It is fun to go visiting the rainbow colors, with some faith, ‘eh?!’
So what is a rainbow? Seven colors? Or more? A sign?
Is it God’s message of being with us, to showing us friendship, with the hope we are becoming friends back to God, doing so freely, and lovingly? Is that what is a rainbow really says? Is it a spiritual sense we have of rainbows? Do we think back to Noah, and his story, as a type of The Christ, and His Story?
Scientifically: A rainbow can be explained as the science of sunlight actually bouncing around inside millions of different raindrops. These droplets refract, reflect and disperse what we usually see as white light into the various colors of the spectrum. All of those raindrops act like miniature projectors, casting a multi-colored arc onto sheets of rain. Colors! Scientists would rather say: A prismatic refraction of light!
Science sees, but faith goes further. God is revealed in His creation. God says things of worth in His revealed Word. God has clearly got something going on with the rainbows.
The Trinity was pleased that Noah was obedient to Them. You heard that in the Sunday Scriptures that lead us into Lent. It tells us why the rainbow was introduced. Noah saw the first one. The rainbow was a sign given after Noah obeyed. Rainbows and obedience to God go together. It’s that kind of sign. I hope you can look at rainbows that way now. (Or have been doing so.) Again: The rainbow was a sign given after Noah obeyed. Rainbows and obedience to God go together. We want peace with God, so we should imitate Noah and his family, who trusted and obeyed God. That’s our message for Lent, Sunday 1.
Now I know there are some groups or movements, along with some stores and products which use a rainbow to represent them, probably because it’s pretty and eye-catching. Right. But it is really more of a holy sign; not just ‘a sky happening’ or ‘cute thing.’ Noah, and the holy eight in the arc, er, I mean ark, had the signs of a dove and the rainbow to point out that God was dealing with them, in happiness. That’s what a covenant is—and rainbows are covenant signs. Happy signs.
So, I don’t mean to slight the “Rainbow clothing shop” on Briggs Chaney Rd. Lil’ Shopping Plaza.
Nor do I mean to slight Rainbow sandals, available at the Kokopelli store and Nordstrom store in Columbia. I think a Rainbow Emoji can be cute now and then, in a message, used sparingly. If I see a Daycare Center with a rainbow on its wall or window, then I feel pretty good about what’s going on inside. On St. Patrick’s Day with its myths, I know the Leprechauns with their pots of gold are waitin’ at the rainbow’s end. ‘Good luck findin’ one’s fortune!
But a rainbow really is a holy sign. Especially on St. Patrick’s Day or in Lent anyday.
Looking at the Text today…God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you….” God is speaking to the obedient in His Word. “I will establish my covenant with you, …there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” Ok, good to hear that, God. You have a holy, righteous temper– but You hold it back in mercy and love. Thanks.
One wonders about the ice on those polar caps—it’s definitely lots and lots of water being held back. If they melt down, then we’d have quite a lot of flooding on our hands. But You’re saying, God—that people will still be around if there’s melting.. Ok! (But maybe I should sell my Ocean City property soon anyhow)…
God added: “This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between with you and I… which also will involve every living creature with you on the planet:
I set my bow in the clouds.”
A rainbow is a Sign that asks for the Cross Sign of Mercy. A rainbow is given as a Sign to faithful people, who have kept God’s commandments. Jesus really is a Rainbow Person that has come down to us, and Who remains available to us. “I am with you always, even until the end of the ages.”
Jesus is the Covenant Sign of God. He offers the full spectrum of help and life to us. He can be met and received. He gives us life eternal. He is a God of signs.
If we receive Him, then the peace and good will that the Angel Gabriel announced (at His coming) will come about in us. It will bless us individually, and then lead us to come together, and find a “rainbow of possibilities.” That is who we are to be as “Church.”
He has a multitude of supply of grace and growth for His people. We are talking of holiness and wholeness from God into us, and that leads us to His Father. That’s the rainbow sign. It is Christ Jesus Who leads us to the Kingdom of Heaven.
A rainbow is not merely a lovey-dovey, groovy peace sign. That is so reduced a thing! Rainbows are not to be paired with unicorns, crystals, secular humanist movements, or even any freedom march that goes without their respectful responsibilities or moral commitments to the Common Good and to God’s Truth. I am thinking of the me-first, me-only type of marchers, who are just using rainbow signs, and know little of the Maker of the real ones or of their true meaning. Rainbows go with those who love, trust and obey God firstly.
Rainbows are God’s call for us to be trustful servants of Him, abiding in His Absolute Truth, and to be acting as one, not divided. We are to be faithful to God, and then with one another. Only Christ can make it all happen. Christ is the Light needed. (Read 1st John chapters 1 and 5 sometime about that.) With Christ Jesus, we are to blend and to complement one another. We are to become saints in light. Holy humanity is meant to be a rainbow people in God. In Christ Jesus, the Light of God. De Colores!