Deacon Jerry’s Lenten Reflection: 1st Sunday of Lent

Posted on February 12, 2024 by Published by

In the first reading this Sunday, God tells Noah of God’s covenant that he will never again destroy the world by flood. God made the rainbow in the sky as symbol to remind us of this promise.

Earlier God had destroyed almost everything because of great sin and corruption. Almost everyone had turned from God.

God had destroyed all but those few who had escaped on the Ark. People had turned away from him. God covenants how he will act in the future. This is remarkable. God is not saying you will be safe if everyone is good. Rather, he is saying that there will not be a general punishment by flood even if everyone or almost everyone is bad.

Sometimes we confuse the word covenant with contract. In some cultures, and in some contexts, a covenant may be like a contract. But in Jewish and Roman Catholic tradition the two words are quite different, and we are blessed by what God promises us.

We abuse God’s covenantal promise if we act as if this is a one-sided contract which does not require anything of us. If we assume free will permits us to do anything, if we act as if there is no sin and if we assume that there is no one in hell and no punishment, then we miss the point of the covenantal relationship that God is offering.

God will reveal his full covenant over time: Abraham will be the father of great nations, from David will spring a king who reigns forever. Eventually the covenant is fully revealed in Jesus, the Christ. The covenant is fulfilled in Jesus because God offers us mercy and love if we are repentant for our sins.

God is a constant. Everything he says and every act is a constant; “I am who am,” as he later reveals to Moses. Eventually Moses and the people will be freed from slavery by the flood that destroys Pharaoh’s pursuing army. If we follow the contract model instead of the covenant model we do not have to do anything; that may sufficient if all we are trying to do is to avoid drowning in the flood.

But if we want to be cleansed in the waters of Baptism and receive God’s love and mercy, we must repent.

Deacon Jerry

Readings for the First Sunday of Lent: Lectionary 23

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