As we transition into Lent, the readings take us through the creation of God’s covenant with the people after the destruction of the flood. God makes a promise to all living creatures that water will not be used for destruction ever again. In the first and second readings, the symbol of water changes from representing loss, as seen in the flood, to symbolizing purification, salvation, and ultimately transformation.
I am struck by the resilience presented in these readings. The promise that after destruction and suffering, comes protection and transformation. When I think of Lent, I associate the time with reflection and retreat, however that is not always the case for everyone. For others, the Lenten season can be alienating. Perhaps in the past this could be soothed by our gathering physically in our communities, but this year, Lent might appear more desolate without the physical reminder of love of community. However the readings invite us to remember our resilience. This resilience is exemplified by Noah and his family, and Jesus in the desert, both ultimately being strengthened by God’ covenant to be with us. In the face of injustice, destruction, and disillusionment, God resides with us. Yet this makes me wonder, whose face does God bear among the conflict? Where do we search for God in our plight?
The readings invite us this Lent to experience transformation and conversion through the waters of baptism, for a “clear conscience” as the letter from Peter indicates. In the context of our challenging lives and world, we are called to encounter God present in all that is still life-giving to us. The Spirit led Jesus to the desolation of the desert, yet it is the same Spirit, and the same God who protects Jesus and leads him out. It is comforting for me to see that Jesus, while being the Son of God, is still fully human where he experiences alienation and temptation and just like us, relies on God’s presence.
To me, part of God’s covenant is the promise that we are not alone. In the process of conversion, of transformation no matter how painful and alienating it might be, there is that promise of resilience and God’s presence with us. In the face of difficulty, I see this as an opportunity to search for the face of God. As we enter our own deserts this Lenten season, I hope that we may remember that God walks with us and will lead us out. How can we become a symbol of resilience for one another? Where do we search for God’s face? How might we be invited to rely on God’s presence as we embark on our Lenten journey?
~ Tayz Hernandez, B.A. in Theology and Psychology, Class of 2021