Monday, March 12, 2007

Fourth Sunday in Lent – B

Fourth Sunday in Lent – B

Years B
Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10
John 3:14-21


The poisonous language of complaint usually ends up in a community that bites each other. Any way one turns there is complaint ready to strike. Everyone is a heel to be struck and a heel who strikes.

In a poisonous context, working from the inside is no longer an option for healing. It has to come from the outside. A discipline or methodology needs to be designed and followed for, left to one's own devices, the poison is too strong to fight against and poison breeds poison - that which we abhor, we do; that which we intend, we don't.

Look clearly at the result - complaint becomes a snake. Look clearly at this connection. Perhaps by turning it around and seeing the snake on its way (still on a pole, but ready to descend to bite again) we might yet change our complaining ways.

Wherein such clarity that can stop a consequence by seeing it? Here it is prayer. Prayer for a larger context. Prayer of thanks. Prayer for mercy. Prayer for deeds of light.

In this Lenten season prayer is not just duty, but a lens through which we might yet see more clearly. Or, as St. Richard of Chichester prayed in the 13th century and the Shrine of St. Jude modified for use as a midday prayer in the 21st:

Merciful Friend, Brother and Redeemer
May I know you more clearly
Love you more dearly
And follow you more nearly
Day by day.

[may this prayer be more, this day, than a pious covering of crusade preaching (complaint) against another faith - Richard did have his limits and blind-spots, as do we all]

= = = = = = =

a serpent is raised as a question mark
"is this what you want to become"
that question twines itself around our lives

a messiah is raised an exclamation mark
"come on in life is fine"
that call echoes within and through our lives

a singular you is raised to take them both
and demonstrate that steadfast love endures
that good works are - our way of life

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