Friday, February 23, 2007

First Sunday in Lent – C4

First Sunday in Lent – C4

Years C
Luke 4:1-13

O how many opportune times there are for compromising just a bit on matters of expansive love, specific justice, and desired peace. This passage makes it sound as if there might only be one more test - thus the marvelous work by Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ.

Presuming Jesus to be our brother, we know that there isn't just a superbowl of temptation that comes around in a scheduled sort of way. Temptations are built into the system (ever wonder what it says about God that Jesus prays for release from testing, temptation, and a load of debt?). So we regularly pray to not be put to a test. We know from experience that temptations are not usually codified, first a temptation about this aspect of life and then another about some other aspect. Temptations are as holographic as blessings - they run all the way through and any one experience of temptation is found in every experience.

I would find it more helpful to pray for a presence of hope in the midst of temptation, rather than simple avoidance of temptation. It may be that presence might make it seem as though temptations have been avoided, but there is a qualitative difference between not being tempted and assisted in the presence of temptation.

This difference might be glimpsed as Jesus, full up with spirit, becomes famished after 40 days. What hope is left to proceed as though life is still about expansive love when facing diminished resources? What hope is left to hold to justice when power and authority offer so many shortcuts to constrain behavior? What hope is left to live peaceably when spectacle is the coin of the realm? What hope do you return to, time after time, when you are not full-up with Spirit, when you are facing a soul's dark night? Is it something deeper than hope?

= = = = = = =

how much grace it takes
to sift through a deep listening
to life's persistent questions
to find a nub of the matter
and respond straight-forwardly
without arguments ad hominem

how much surety it takes
to stay put when the world swirls
around with answer upon answer
and shift the ground
to a response that opens
further conversation

how much hope it takes
to match our experience
with our understanding
to sift and winnow both
without resorting to despair
of ever coming whole

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