Friday, 24 February 2012

Do you know where you're going to?



Sunday Gospel Reflection
Mark 1:12-15 


The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.
  After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’




There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.      Denis Waitley


One of my Lenten practices is to turn off the radio or cd player and drive to and from work in silence - giving me a 40 minute space each way to let God be my passenger - a bit of 'us' time.  In fact this is such a favourite practice that I generally carry it on all year; except for times when I use this as an opportunity to listen to recorded talks and lectures in peace. 


Just before the 'off' switch was pressed this year I was listening to Ron Rolheiser and he made a comment that whenever you are given any piece of scripture it is the first few words that say everything you need to know - an alternative approach to Lectio Divina - and a need for some real mindfulness


How much we anticipate the beginning of something; especially if we have completed preparations and developed expectations? So much so that we launch into it full throttle - racing through the first lesson, the first chapter,  the first day - our eyes already set on the finishing line when the smoke hasn't even cleared from the starter's gun.


This Gospel is just days from the beginning of Lent - ashes if not smoke - and a pivotal moment in the Church's year. This flamboyant tradition of Ash Wednesday is one of the most public statements of faith that modern Catholics make - with websites and blogs that celebrate 'How big is your ash?'. And that's fine - that's what community does - why not? 


But now, these few days later, as the discomforts of the denials are starting to bite, we wonder how we are going to gather the willpower to make it through the routine of the next 30 odd days and is there really any point?  What have we  missed in our eagerness?


Our Lenten journey is intended to remind us of how Jesus prepared himself for his ministry so that we may be better prepared to reaffirm our willingness to carry out our own. So how should this journey begin?


'The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness'. 


Mark makes it clear this is not a voluntary act, not an invitation, not a promise to something more. The Spirit 'takes' Jesus where She wants him. This is a beginning - this rush of power; this gift of recognition; the handing over from John - but Jesus has to know what it means. We have to be prepared to  be  lifted up in the Spirit's hands -  we also have to learn what our discipleship means.


In these past few days have we given ourselves over to God's will or have we been focused on pursuing our own aims; what we decided was the right choice; the right action?


If we have been 'Spirit driven'  we will find ourselves, like Jesus, in the wilderness; the place beyond control; the place of encounter; the place of finding out. 


Our first reaction to losing control is to withdraw; to mistrust; to fear - the ideal territory for the devil's work. The suggestion comes to take care of yourself first; to decide it's too difficult and then justify our change of mind; to snatch at any opportunity to exert power - to deny rather than to submit. 


But the invitation is to submit; to become part of the wilderness; to encounter the wild beasts; the untamed truths of who we are; where we have come from; what hurts us and what feeds us. To know ourselves in God's eyes.


And so to know that all gifts; all grace comes from God - through the ministry of angels -  the love of friends. That no matter what the hardships; challenges and sacrifices, if it was God who put you there then  you will not walk out of the wilderness without a purpose; you will not walk out of the wilderness alone.



Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced - James Baldwin




wordinthehand2012

5 comments:

Philomena Ewing said...

Fantastic post- I am intrigued by the Rolheiser part about the first few words of scripture containing everything we need to know.
Mmmmmmm.lots of food here.
Blessings

Word in the Hand said...

It was in a talk he gave in Northumberland - he used a few short pieces of scripture to desribe where the church is today and made this point that no matter how short the piece the first few words still tell you everything. In as short a Gospel as this - it really stood out how true this was.
Thanks Phil

Dawn Morais Webster said...

In the beautiful setting of the Mystical Rose Oratory, the chapel overlooking Diamond Head crater in the distance on the Chaminade University Campus, Honolulu, poet/priest Fr. Tim Eden of the Society of Mary, offered much the same message of the need for mindfulness as we cope with the "wild beasts" of life on earth and turn to the angels for support and strength.http://freecatholic808.com/2012/02/26/lenten-diary-2-god-in-the-here-and-now/

Word in the Hand said...

It's a great gift that the Spirit's message casts itself so far and wide. Thank you for the link.

claire said...

A sensational post, Word, which fills me with thoughts and reflections and gratitude finally to have made it to your blog.
There is so much I love in your words, your thoughts, like:
If we have been 'Spirit driven' we will find ourselves, like Jesus, in the wilderness; the place beyond control; the place of encounter; the place of finding out.
or again,
But the invitation is to submit; to become part of the wilderness; to encounter the wild beasts; the untamed truths of who we are; where we have come from; what hurts us and what feeds us. To know ourselves in God's eyes.
And your final Baldwin quote gives me hope for today.
Love and blessings.