3rd Sunday of Lent

As I sat down to write, I was wondering what line of thought might come my way after having read the scripture for this weekend. A member of our community the previous day drew my attention to one of John O Donohue’s books on display as part of the Lenten feature in front of the church lectern. On the strength of this encounter, I dusted down one of John’s books stowed safely away in a bookshelf, entitled: Divine Beauty.

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Flicking through the pages I came across the following:

‘The heart of all creativity is the awakening and flowering of individuality.

The mystery and magic of being an individual is to live life in response to the deep call within,

 the call to become who we were dreamed to be.

In primal terms, it is the call to discover and realize

the divine blueprint in the soul.

To believe that within each person there is an inherent ‘call’ to become a work of God’s creation. This is a positively profound realisation. I thought of the song Lord of the Dance written by Sydney Carter.

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!

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Indeed, dance is a fitting image to describe our journey through life. As you know, there are different dance rhythms ranging in tempo from tranquillity, steady beat, to chaotic explosive rhythms. Each rhythm is reflective of moods we experience during different times of our lives.

Wednesday evening, I read the opening chapter of a book, ‘The Gift’, published last year by a 92 year survivor of Auschwitz, Edith Eger. I thought to myself, ‘WOW; this remarkable woman who lived in a real hell for a number of her formative years and battled with the scars of this horrific imprisonment for much of her life, ‘never threw in the towel’. She danced her way through life, willing herself through the nightmares inflicted on her and bravely embraced life’s opportunities. On occasion when she has to struggle within herself her dance was that of intense pain and turbulence represented by the sound of distressing music which jars the nerves and disturbs the soul. She spoke of the good days when everything ran smoothly, somewhat akin to delighting in a boat trip along the ‘Blue Danube’ on a fine Summers day. There were days when the mood was one of darkest despair and heartbreak, like music which evokes feelings of sadness and bringing sorrowing tears to the eyes. I think of the music from the soul wrenching film ‘Schlender’s List’. During her dark days she never lost faith, doggedly hanging in there, like the slaves in ‘Ol’ Man River’, who in spite of the miserable existence, defiantly held onto a dream by the banks of the Mississippi river.

’Show me dat stream called de river Jordan

Dat's de ol' stream dat I long to cross’

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Edith possessed an inner determination and drive to reach beyond her circumstances and give of her gift and talent in the task of easing the plight of others. I think of powerful music, that motivates listeners to ‘Walk on through the nigh’ with steely determination and a belief in the healing power of goodness. 

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. Psalm 19

The readings this weekend focus on the law of the Lord; precepts and guidelines to protect, nurture and nourish the soul of the individual. The sacred scripts are an invitation to heed the inner ‘God call’, to aim for the ‘higher gifts’ and walk to the beat of that Divine Blueprint etched on the soul.

This higher calling is not alien to us as human beings, it’s something that comes natural to us in the form of acknowledging and celebrating our giftedness in a wholesome way in spite of our shortcomings, circumstances and weaknesses.

We preach Christ crucified. The weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians: 22 - 25

The Mosaic laws as listed in the First Reading are all based on respect. Respect your God, respect the other, respect yourself, respect the goodness of mother earth. The Laws attributed to God are not restrictive, rather they have to do with quality of life and freedom, based on

goodness, truth and integrity

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The mood in the Gospel Passage seems to deviate from this theme. Respect for God and the House of God, which is enshrined in the first two Commandments is violated by merchants making God’s house into a house of merchandise. The Jesus as portrayed in the passage, is certainly far removed from our notion of a ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’. Other instances in the Gospel portray him forcefully challenging the religious authorities when he sees them placing heavy burdens on people.

Later in the exchange with the Jews, he refers to his body as the Temple which can defy even death:

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”.

It’s a powerful reminder never to underestimate the human spirit. The need for us to stand back and respectfully allow each person a degree of latitude, because as individuals we possess that same  

              Divine Blueprint in our Souls