|First reading of today's Mass|
It is the Lord who speaks:
I am going to lure her
and lead her out into the wilderness
and speak to her heart.
I am going to give her back her vineyards,
and make the Valley of Achor a gateway of hope.
There she will respond to me as she did when she was young,
as she did when she came out of the land of Egypt.
When that day comes – it is the Lord who speaks –
she will call me, ‘My husband’,
no longer will she call me, ‘My Baal.’
I will betroth you to myself for ever,
betroth you with integrity and justice,
with tenderness and love;
I will betroth you to myself with faithfulness,
and you will come to know the Lord.
The imperative of the Mission in Mark's Gospel has been having it's effect on me.
When we first began studying Mark in our scripture group we chose some words to fit - hard work, mission, sacrifice, movement, vision; words that demanded a lot from us.
It's not easy to live this sort of life; the world doesn't encourage me to; friends and family don't want me to; my own ego even struggles with it.
One way of trying to live out the intention is to set boundaries and disciplines. Ways of behaving that tell me and others that I am getting it right - when this happens I am fortunate to be reminded that I am getting it wrong.
Taking control of my faith is just never good for me; the rules I set to judge myself by I quickly use to judge others. I develop an attitude of privilege; the right to reward and punishment - even if it's just in my head - and how my heart suffers from this superiority complex.
On Friday, my church was host to the relic of the heart of St John Vianney - the patron of parish priests and a great Confessor and seer of souls. Venerating relics is not a spirituality I usually connect with; I kept myself busy enough and it was only at the end of the evening that I found myself in the line and kneeling before this silver casket holding the heart of a human being. I practically dared it to speak to me; and John, or the Lord, took the dare. And the reply was not some fire and brimstone rage that often seems to accompany the saint's history but a message of great gentleness and compassion.
The Mission is love. I tend to think I know this but every now and again I need to be reminded of what this really means. The Mission is love. Love that is both inside and outside the the boundaries and disciplines; love for the unloveable; the unacceptable; the judged and found wanting - in others and in me. Love that is not me but moves through me - if I can only let it.
God watches me building these castles of control and sighs; God perseveres with me - whispering into my heart whilst I sleep; fleeting glimpses when I am awake. Vocation is not enlistment it is surrender. I am reminded and try again to be the servant; the watchful handmaid; lamp at the ready; to be waiting at the window eager to be lured away to be given the true gift of mission - to know how to love tenderly by letting myself be tenderly loved.
In Jesus' name