'Jesus came to Galilee...saying, "The time is fulfilled; and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the Good News"...' -- Mk 1:14-15

Sunday's first reading (Gen 9:8-15) is one with which we are no doubt rather familiar: that of Noah and the flood.

Noah and his sons are present when God, after the flooding of the world, establishes a new covenant with His creation and promises never again to flood the world. The Lord God also gives a sign to Noah as a perpetual reminder of this covenant: the rainbow.

On this first Sunday of Lent, it would be best to reflect on the nature of covenant. What is a covenant? If we have failed in our part of the covenant, how can we renew the covenant?

A covenant, technically, is an agreement between two parties: one superior, one inferior. The superior party, obviously, is the Lord God; the inferior one is ­humanity.

God makes a promise to mankind: that of being our loving, sustaining Creator. We have the responsibility to remain faithful to the statutes and decrees God has laid out for us. God is the faithful partner; man is perpetually the unfaithful partner.

Noah's covenant is just one of many which is detailed in the Old Testament. Covenants were also made with Abraham, Moses, Aaron and David. One thing is consistent throughout Scripture: God is always faithful to His end of the covenant and the human being is perpetually unfaithful. Mankind, infected with the stain of original sin, falls and fails time and again.

Admit our faults
We need to acknowledge that we, each in our own way, have failed to live up to the covenant of love established in the most precious blood of our Lord Jesus. Every one of us sins; we turn away from the love who is Jesus. Lent affords us the opportunity for deep reflection on our relationship with God.

Sin is threefold alienation from God, others and ourselves. In the holy cross of Christ, we find threefold reconciliation. The sacrament of reconciliation is the surest way for us sinners to make our peace with God, with others and in our souls.

Sign of covenant
The surest sign of the covenant is the Eucharist, the substantial presence of Christ given to us in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. There is no better time to get back to regular practice of confession than the season of Lent. If we have been away from the Mass, come back to the greatest act of covenantal love, the Eucharist.

In and of ourselves, we are an unworthy party in the covenant. We are made worthy by the faithful love that Jesus came to bring in the kingdom, and that He is in Himself.

This Lent, inspired by the example of Noah and his sons, comforted by the pact of love made by the Lord with humanity, may we not despair, but live in the hope symbolized by the rainbow covenant.

(Other readings this Sunday are Ps 25:4-5,6-7,8-9; 1 Pt 3:18-22 and Mark 1:12-15.)