Lenten Reflection for First Sunday of Lent – from Peter Murnane

Dear friends

Hoping that you can all, among the many tasks that challenge us, find space for stillness and silent reflection.

Best regards

(As usual, this rflection will be found with others on the blog:  findingthetreasure.wordpress.com)


Lent 1B                                       Floods of water, and of faithful love                                     18. 2. 2024

(Genesis 9:8-15, Mark 1:12-15)

Among the material damage we might sometimes have to cope with, surely having our house flooded is among the worst. Some people in Queensland have been flooded three times within twelve months, in the abnormal storms that global warming is causing in that part of our world. Scarcely had the unfortunate householders finished the difficult and depressing work of cleaning up, when yet another ferocious storm destroyed all their efforts.

Probably every culture on earth has in its collective memory a mythical story of a great flood. Scripture scholars show us that the flood story in Genesis is of this kind. We were ignorant to have accepted it as literally true. Was the entire earth flooded? Could a hand-built wooden boat carry two each of the millions of species of creatures? Who could provide, for forty days, the enormous variety of foods that they needed? It is hard enough to feed our pets. As with Jonah and his “great fish”, it is a waste of time trying to explain these powerful mythical stories as if they were literally true.

Through billions of years of evolution, we humans have developed remarkable brains with which we handle consciousness. Every culture has some awareness that we come from the infinite consciousness of what we call “God”. Many individuals try communicate with this Source of all that is, and it is these “listeners” who have given us these “inspired” stories which fill the bible. Taken together they gradually inform us that despite the natural tragedies that trouble humanity, which we are inclined to imagine are caused by our own guilt, God has made a covenant with us and will always care for us. “The universe is friendly”, although by our negligence and greed we are damaging this planet so badly that the natural world is becoming more difficult to live in. But the ancients interpreted the beautiful phenomenon of the rainbow as a symbol of God’s covenant, a faithful promise to be always “on our side”.

In Mark’s gospel, Jesus was “driven by the Spirit” to spend a long time in the desert so as to better encounter God, from whom he had just heard- at his baptism – “you are my beloved son”. In his forty days of solitude he was tempted by all the negative forces that exist in ourselves and in the world. He overcame them, preparing himself to announce to the world the Good News of the Reign of God.

When we deliberately enter into silence, whether for minutes or days, we find not only that our Creator’s promise is infinitely more powerful than any planetary disasters – after all, our planet is a tiny fragment among God’s trillion galaxies – nor is the Creator merely our friend. The unimaginable Holy Spirit, Infinite Love, lives within us and all other people. It is our privilege to be able to develop this friendship, this love.

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