Welcome to sackcloth, ashes and hairshirts! However, if this is your chosen Lenten garb, remember that you need the permission of your regular confessor! Personally I would never allow it...
As we progress further into this new year is it not a good idea to make the words of the opening stanza of
TODAY’S PSALM [27 or 26] an anchor to keep us upbeat and steady throughout the months that lie ahead?
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
whom should I dread?
If nothing else the whole drama of Christmas tells us that our Christian God is very good at sorting out a mess – provided I allow him to enter into it! Of course I am going to encounter various setbacks, challenges, failures, and sadness. In addition there will be situations which I will handle badly and mess up. This I will need to admit with honesty, return to the ‘anchor’, and let him in.
It is only two weeks since we celebrated
EPIPHANY – the Christmas narrative came to an end. Have we forgotten what we saw and experienced? This is made clear in TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [ISAIAH 9: 1 – 4].
those whom who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them a light has shined.
As we concluded our celebration of Christmas with the arrival of the Wise Men did we come away with the certain knowledge that we had seen a great light? We should all be able, because of personal experience, to realise how easy it is for us to regress
into and start living in a land of deep darkness. If I stick with our ‘anchor’ from today’s Psalm, I am able, as the same Psalm proclaims, to “believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.”
TODAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 4: 12 – 23]
records the calling of the first disciples. I believe this is important for us as we move through the first period of this current year. We are, each one of us, CALLED BY GOD – and we are called in the name of Jesus Christ. We are called to follow – follow a Way, a Truth, and a Life. As Christians it is a contradiction to aimlessly meander through life and living without a secure and strong anchor which enables and empowers us to rise to all varying situations and challenges – and “believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.” There IS a life to be led, and it is only possible to live this life if I accept the truth of the way laid out by the Lord.
Here we need to recall some words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper. “You did not choose me; I chose you. I appointed you to go on and bear fruit.” On the same occasion Thomas asked “how can we know the way?” The poor man had allowed himself to slip back into a land of darkness. Thomas had forgotten that he had been chosen and as a result had to be reminded by Jesus – “I am the way; I am the truth and I am the life.”We must not make the same mistake when we find ourselves in challenging and stressful situations. Therein the solutions will seldom be readily evident. We have to return to our basic ‘anchor’, evade living in deep darkness, and know the availability ofseeing the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.
He has chosen us and called us forward into light.