THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 5: 13 - 16] records two of the best-known images and analogies recorded by Jesus ..... (i) "you are the salt of the earth", and (ii)...
This reflection is being prepared exactly a fortnight before Ash Wednesday. Lent has not even commenced. Therefore, last night I was somewhat ‘miffed’ to see a Television advertisement which made much of the arrival of the Easter Bunny! Then, I recalled that last Thursday I had noticed in the local supermarket that Easter Eggs were on display!?
How has it happened that an entire six week period of time has been jumped as if it was merely an obstacle, a hurdle, to be ignored? What is entirely glossed over is the fact that the six weeks in question are the only thing which give some sort of real understanding to ‘egg’ and ‘bunny!
What has this to do with the third week of Lent? Well I thought it was time to challenge myself – – – about where I stood in these Lenten weeks. The question may well be inconvenient if there is a need to renew my focus on the present journey – not the destination. So, where do I stand?
Take a look at
THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [EXODUS 3: 1 – 8a. 13 – 15]. There we read that Moses was instructed to “put off your shoes from your feet … you are standing on holy ground.” As we commence this Lenten week we need, perhaps, to put off a few things, and remind ourselves of where we are actually standing.
LENT IS HOLY GROUND
, and unless we put off a little,the real time for ‘egg’ and ‘bunny’ will be impoverished.
This Lenten week should not become an inconvenience
. It is holy ground – a specific time and place in and on which I am alive. Life and living are holy ground. Moses was busy and focussed on his ordinary daily routine “keeping the flock of his father-in-law.” However, he noticed that “the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.” He said to himself “I must turn aside and see this great sight.” We are asked this week to do two things. One, to at least notice that something outside the ordinary routine IS HAPPENING, and then be willing to “turn aside and see …”
It may well be that so far we have not undertaken any specific Lenten endeavours – or having done so we realise that not much has been achieved. If this is the case, then take a look at
THIS SUNDAY’S PSALM [103 or 102]. There we will be assured that “the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in mercy.” In addition, we are urged to “never forget all his benefits.” THIS LENTEN WEEK MUST BE SEEN AS A BENEFIT. This will only become apparent if we take time to turn aside. If you need more encouragement, then THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL READING [LUKE 13: 1 – 9] has much to offer. Jesus is the vinedresser, and there is no need for any of us to throw in the towel, or cut ourselves down. Hear what the Lord says – “let it alone … dig about it … put on manure.” Believe it or not, your bush is still burning and it is not consumed. TURN ASIDE AND TAKE A GOOD LOOK!
Now, let us go back to where we began.
The festival of Easter
IS A CHRISTIAN FEAST, A CHRISTIAN TIME AND SEASON. No one can gainsay this. Is it possible we have given our permission for contemporary society to take it over while ignoring the all-important weeks of preparation? Something has been cut down because it is seen as taking up the ground! Is it our silence, disinterest, hesitancy, fear or busyness with the daily routine which prevents us turning aside to look at what has happened – not IS happening?
The right answer is not easy to formulate, but somehow or other we have failed to dig around and manure. The simple pointing of fingers at others is unproductive – and a dangerous escape mechanism. Rather, we need to recognise the areas in which we have failed in not often enough, turning aside and taking a good look at ourselves.
THIS SUNDAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [1 CORINTHIANS 10: 1 – 6. 10 – 12] Saint Paul tells us that the people of the Old Testament received much that we have, but failed to appreciate what had been given. They were too busy to turn aside and look. They never took their shoes off! So, they lost out. The same must never happen to us. Do not fear to stop and, then, go and see.
This week, let us take off our shoes and recognise where we are standing.