There is nothing quite as striking or stunning as a rainbow after a deluge of rain that brings life to a standstill. Even while dark clouds still threaten more rain and there is only a promise of sun, the rainbow becomes a sign that the storm is finally over and life can begin again. It is at these moments that we are reminded of how great God is and how fragile we truly are in this life.
The Scripture readings for today’s Mass continue to remind us that God always looks for ways to prod us to acknowledge the power of God to save. In both readings, God initiates the grace and is the One to take the first step and is the One who clearly shows us what life is all about.
The first reading describes the covenant that God makes with Noah and his descendants after the devastating floods that almost destroyed the first creation. In the Genesis stories these last two weeks, we find a God who is good, life-giving, long-suffering, revising original plans for us, indeed, a God who never gives up on us, even when we have given up on God.
In the Gospel reading, we have a Jesus who has preached to all kinds of people, healed the sick, driven out unclean spirits, fed the hungry, opened the eyes of the blind, made the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak, and has yet to hear from his disciples a declaration of who he is. He finally has to ask them, "Who do you say that I am?"
Our faith is ultimately a realization that we are in a very personal relationship with God, especially with each of the three Persons of the Trinity, God Creator, Jesus the Savior and the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. Our faith gets tested when we experience the storms of life, when the cares and concerns of this life threaten to drown us and overwhelm us and when we think of ourselves as irredeemable and without salvation. Even the best of us can point to moments of darkness in our lives, bad choices made, and wrong decisions embraced.
And then there is a sign from God, a rainbow that says to us that God is good, God is life-giving, God is forgiving and merciful and that Jesus is Love Incarnate. That is when the Spirit is truly present in our lives. Do you not hear God asking you, "Who do you say that I am?"
Fr. Clemente Barron, C.P. is a member of the General Council of the Passionist Congregation and is stationed in Rome.