1st Sunday of Lent


Genesis 9:8-15
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:12-15


This happened to me a long time ago. Before I was ordained, it’s a story I tell often at funerals. So, if you have heard it before, I apologise. I tell it often because it’s true. True in fact. And True in faith. It’s a story about life, and death, and re-birth, and needing each other to light the path on all of our journeys.

Our Passionist community was on Retreat at Apollo Bay, on the Great Ocean Road. A beautiful part of the world, not far from Melbourne. If you have lived in Melbourne, you will know the saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” Its true. This place was much the same. The weather would roll in off the Southern Ocean. It would be raining for ten minutes, then sunny for ten minutes. Rain for ten, sunny for ten. And so on, allday

On one of these sunny patches, I walked to the beach. I was sitting on a rock, enjoying the sun, when I looked to my right, and there, maybe twenty metres away, on the beach, I saw the end of a rainbow. My first thoughts were for the old saying, “There’s a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow.”

As I pondered my newfound wealth, I realised I was on retreat and better think of more spiritual matters. And I recalled that story in our first reading after the flood had gone down. God says to Noah, “Look, I will never destroy again. I’m a God of life, and I’m a God of love. And as a sign of that promise, I set my rainbow in the sky.

As I briefly pondered that thought, I realised that financial opportunities like that do not present themselves too many times in life. So, I decided to walk towards the rainbow, and grab the pot of gold.

You probably know what happened next. As I walked towards the rainbow, it just disappeared. Into thin air. Along with my pot of gold.

Later that night, I was in the house where I was staying with the other guys. One of the guys, Br Damian Ryles, spoke to me; he had seen what had happened before.

He said to me, “Did you see the rainbow?”

I said, “Yeah, I did”

He said, “Did you get the pot of gold?”
I said, “No, as soon as I walked toward the rainbow, it disappeared.”

He said to me, “It didn’t disappear; you walked right through it.”
It didn’t disappear. You walked right through it.

Sometimes we can be right in the middle of something and not even see it. And that’s why we need each other. To point out to us the life, love, and presence that is with us, even when we cannot see it. Also, whether it be times of joy, or times of darkness, we can be the one who points out the light, the love of God, which surrounds us all, each and every moment of the day.

Peter Gardiner is a Passionist priest, presently teaching English to Passionist students in Vietnam.