3rd Sunday in Lent Reflection
We live in a world of restless anxiety where much of our relationships are based on the commercialisation of love, the Babylon effect. Our cherished world of winners and losers bases integrity upon expediency, the exchange of affection for “fish love”. This creates the cognitive dissonance between our desire to love and be loved and our drive to be one of the winners, to be on top, to be applauded and recognised as better than others. How can we overcome this dissonance to lead lives of joy and integrity?
At the core of our being is the seed of our first ancestor.
With the seed of our first ancestor is also the eternal plan that is the Word speaking all things into being. This is the eternal word that is before time and was incarnated in the man called Jesus the Christ. This acknowledgement of Christ within us is the basis of our faith.
Together with the seed and the Word we also have God’s animating Spirit of Love, the Ruah that plunges us into Christ in the ongoing exciting and vital creative process of regaining our self by becoming that Christ within; living mirrors of wisdom, love and justice. Without this birth there is no life and we return to clay.
This is the fruit within us that we are called to bear into being, the creative process that God has shared with, in and through us. This is what we are called to bear in integrity to plan, word and action. This is our shared ancestry as well as our shared transcendent vocation.
How is it then that with St Paul that we also must confess our loss of integrity, thoughts of vengeance, words of destruction and actions that are puny and spiteful? Have we totally rejected and replaced God’s plan with the vanity of our own endeavour at creating the human Nirvana? Have we lost faith in God’s Word, no longer listening to the Way of Life? Have our hearts become so calcified that love is only an illusion of our desire?
This is our mea culpa in a world that often seems heartless, heedless and cruel. This is our mea culpa as a church that has betrayed our great commission, for we are church. When we scratch a little deeper beneath the pride and the anger, we find the fear of the child within. This is where we return to our trust and our faith, “do not be afraid”. God’s Plan is inviolate, God’s Word always true and God’s Spirit is the energy of the universe. Yes, the end of certain but for now we continue our journey. This is why we undertake our humble journey of repentance.
The journey of Lent for each one of us is bound as a chapter of a book within 40 days, yet it is neither temporal nor individual. It is the journey of a people, a nation and a family and it is our story. From the beginnings of God’s breath kissed into our earthly moulded forms we come to acknowledge our created connectedness to the earth soaked in the blood of all the martyrs and the victims of our greed, but now redeemed and restored by mercy through the blood of God’s own offering. So close, already but not yet!
Through the desert we are stripped of our illusions, our pride and our grand posturing to see Truth pour Light through the cracks of our woundedness and to make a choice whether or not to return to the source of Love who is also our healer, our joy, our hope and our life. This is the only source who can lead us from darkness to light, from despair to hope and from death to immortality. It is only from the source that our original face will manifest.
Your life story is a beautiful and mysterious story and without any doubt your story reveals that you have been wounded along the way. You’ve been wounded because you received God’s first love through the brokenness of those who reflected that love to you – your father, your mother, your brother, your sister.
They are people who loved you to a greater or lesser degree, but who were limited because of the wounds of their own lives. Sometimes they loved you in ways that were painful for you. They wounded you – not because they wanted to, but because they are broken people.
Within each of us is a kind of deep wound that is often called original sin? Our parents inherited it. So did we. We are each born to love but we cannot love unconditionally. This is wonderful and terrible. We grow because of it and we suffer because of it.
What is important is that we try to integrate this wondrous and incredible mystery: we have been touched with God’s first love through channels that were broken. Through our woundedness we are ushered into the true experience of that ‘ first love.’ (Mosteller, 1998 pp. 30-31)
Only through humility can we overcome this dissonance to move towards integrity. We are of the light, but we are not the light, and so we stand in silent and humble contemplation of the eternal and unchanging Light of the world. “Listen, and you will live… Incline the ear of your heart.” The words of St. Francis of Assisi in his Letter to the Entire Order are an invitation to listen to Christ, “true Wisdom of the Father”.
This contemplation becomes a way of looking, a way of observing, a way of discovering and a way of recognising with the spiritual eyes of faith the real presence of God in ourselves and in this world. External material and bodily appearances become potential means of profoundly seeing and believing the mystery of God. The created world becomes transparent, and thus the traces of God can be recognised in it. The sole premise for contemplation is “spiritual eyes”, that is, the ability to see everything with the eyes of the Spirit.
Our steps through this Lenten journey will lead us through and beyond death so that we may become and bear fruit as a people of the resurrection. “Listen, and you will live.” For the seed to bear fruit it must bear within itself the nature of its origin that is Christ.