The author of Genesis
writes about a rainbow

Readings: Gen. 9.8-15; Ps. 25; 1 Pt. 3.18-22; Mk. 1.12-15

The author of Genesis writes about a rainbow. He is a religious man writing a religious story; he says that whenever we see a rainbow, we ought to perceive this as a sign of God's unbreakable covenant with humankind. The covenant is this: God loves us, cares for us, and never again will destroy the earth by a Great Flood. Picture a rainbow. See its full range of color. See that the rainbow stretches as if from heaven to earth. What a poetic and perhaps mystical image of God reaching out to humankind, yes?

Please remember that the author of Genesis is not a 21st century astronomer; he is not trying to give a scientific explanation to the phenomenon of rainbows. He is a religiously inspired author, writing in approximately 950 BC, to give this religious message: God has established an everlasting covenant with humankind.

Here at Emmitsburg, we see rainbows rarely. When I was at Niagara Falls, we saw rainbows daily. Because of the ever-present mist resulting from the continuous flow of water pouring over the half-mile rim of Niagara Falls, as soon as the sun peeked out through the morning sky, numerous rainbows would be projected here, there, and everywhere. The local Chamber of Commerce advertises Niagara Falls as Rainbow Country.

Because we don't see rainbows daily, is there some phenomenon of nature, that you do see frequently that might remind you of God's eternal presence to you and for you? Think of something. Maybe it will be the sunrise or sunset, or the seemingly immovable Catoctin Mountains, or certain flowers or trees, or a certain bird or animal, or a cluster of stars or the North Star. I'm suggesting this because at Emmitsburg, we don't see rainbows daily, but God is present to us daily. Is there some part of the natural world which you experience frequently that could be a sign for you that God is always present to you? Now, don't become a sun worshipper, or a tree worshipper.

We are not pagans. We are not animists. As a Christian, is there something that you see frequently that you might understand, in lieu of a rainbow, as God's continuous care for you? What might it be for you? For me, I think it might be the sunrise. As a teenager, I had a morning paper route, and I would ride my bicycle for miles each morning, and as the sun broke through the morning sky, I know it warmed me, literally en-lightened me, and provided me a context of contemplation in which I decided to become a priest. What phenomenon of nature might communicate God's eternal covenant with you?

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley