All during Lent I have been reading this responsorial everyday from the Liturgy of the Office. “God will set me free from the hunters snare”. “From those who would trap with lying words and from the hunters snare”. It is God who saves! Who are we looking for? I need to read this everyday!
26th Sunday Ordinary Time — September 26, 2009
In today’s gospel Jesus is confronting human natures ability to create a captivity and control box, a jail. When we are young our human capacity to understand God is limited yet we automatically try and wrap our arms around this God of ours. In doing so, we unknowingly create a treasure box for God and others. Unfortunately some are locked in and some locked out. Later in life this treasure box can to limit our spiritual growth to the size of the box we chose.
Did you know we all have such a treasure box? Some have a little bitty box and some of have a bigger box. Let me assure you each of us has their own box. At some point in our life we settled in on, who we think God is, how he operates and we then put God in our box and locked some folks out. Then we tend to keep him there because we are comfortable with who we decided he was. But eventually in life the good Lord will place us in a situation where he makes us uncomfortable because God wants us to understand he cannot be contained within our limited understanding self defined box.
From the book of Numbers we hear the Lord came in a cloud, took some of the spirit of Moses and bestowed it on the seventy elders. Joshua, Moses longtime closest aide was one of them. We hear Joshua, one of the chosen ones complain. Eldad and Medad, two who were outside the gathering had prophesied in the camp – stop them! Please Moses get them out of our box!
Again in the gospel of Mark, we hear John, the beloved disciple, tell Jesus. Teacher someone is driving out demons in your name. We tried to stop him because he does not follow us, tell them to get out of our treasure box!
In these readings we see human natures reaction to a confrontation with this treasure box, pettiness, arrogance and envy. Times like these are teaching moments. Jesus wants us to know those of good will who are not against us, are to be treated as being with us. We are being called to tolerance and openness. Jesus wants our limited human created box to be stretched. One day we will find ourselves in a situation that will make us uncomfortable so we can see clearly the arbitrary human limitations we place on him.
Break open your box, set me free from your confounded self defined box which in truth is purely an illusion that exists only in your mind.
This week end, we are also holding our parish stewardship fair. Guess what is true about Catholic stewardship? Yes each of us also has a stewardship captivity box. This box may have been defined long ago and over time some of us have added an iron reinforced concrete layer to protect our inner self from any penetration! Some are putting up road blocks as I speak.
The spirit of God cannot be contained. Release God and he will open your spirit and stretch the size of your box beyond your wildest imagination to the degree we open our hearts!
I have a promising antidote, a box expanding opener. It has the potential to spring God lose from our self limiting captivity box and begin to cut a hole in the concrete reinforced walls of our stewardship box! Let’s call this a kind of spiritual of cash for clunkers program. We will be trading in the stubbornness of the human heart for joy now and salvation later.
Are you willing to take a risk and give this antidote a try?
I have some lyrics I will say the words first and then I want you sing the refrain after me. Are you ready for the antidote?
I’m trading my sorrow — I’m trading my shame — I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord
I’m trading my sickness –I’m trading my pain — I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord
Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord.
There is a positive impact from saying a simple yes to the Lord. As the Yes travels from the tips of the tongue down it startles and wakes up the spirit of the soul triggering a natural opening and stretching of the size of the box to handle the possibilities of the hazards of the risk just spoken. As the reality of yes reaches the living, beating chambers of our heart it expands to transform our box into a spirit filled room of potential unending capacity.
No one gets bumped out as new travelers begin to fill the room.
2nd Sunday of Lent February 28, 2010
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson go camping. They pitch their tent under the stars. During the night, Holmes wakes his companion and says: “Watson, look up at the stars, and tell me what you deduce.” Watson says: “I see millions of stars. Wow If only even a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some like Earth, and there might also be life there as well.” Holmes replies: “Watson, you idiot. Somebody stole our tent …”
Let’s see what we can deduce from our scriptures today that will help us explore who we are and what we should be about! Then we can answer the question; are we a Sherlock Homes or Dr. Watson?
Upon this rock I will build my church. Peter wakes up from a deep sleep. He must have rubbed his eyes in disbelief. Before him stands the Lord in dazzling white with Moses and Elijah – Ghosts stand before him. Peter, just awakening is unable to digest the fullness of the moment, being true to his nature, pipes in saying, let us pitch 3 tents. As Peter is speaking a cloud comes over them, they became frightened and a voice spoke out from the cloud. “This is my beloved son, listen to him.”
So what is the message for us this day? Did anyone notice what Moses, Elijah and Jesus were talking about? They were speaking of Jesus Exodus in Jerusalem. What does this mean? They had something very much in common, an exodus story. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Elijah delivered a message of covenant curse to Ahab the King: a drought would afflict the land (1 Ki 17:1). Oh Ahab wasn’t happy with Elijah and called for his head. The Lord told Elijah to “go hide” east of the Jordan (17:3). Moses and Elijah both made flights into the wilderness wanderings for the purpose of leading Israel back into a covenant relation with the Lord.
Ah ha! Ah ha! Oh Sherlock and Dr. Watson – someone has stolen our tent!
I don’t think you got it yet!
Peter wanted to pitch 3 tents in this safe and sacred place but he did not know what he was saying! In other words the Lord Jesus Christ is not calling us to stay put and camp out! That is not the purpose for which God is calling us! – ya can’t stay where your at – like Moses, Elijah and Jesus we all have an exodus journey call and need to move on. We can’t stay where we are at! It’s time to move on!
Let’s start over; we can’t leave Dr. Watson behind. The Genesis story today is the bedrock story, upon which stands, not only Abraham’s faith but yours and mine as well.
God commanded Abraham to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldeans and go to a land I will show you. God promises the land to Abraham.
Speaking for myself, for much of my life I went into a deep slumber. From time to time I would awaken to ah ha moments and like Peter I would respond recognizing, man it is good to be alive in those moments. If only I could stay here and I would pitch a tent! Are you with me?
Like Peter, we want to stay in our ah hah moments – the symbol of the tents. Stay in that safe moment and cover our ears. For when the cloud comes and casts a shadow over us we are unable to respond to the words, the Lord our God speaks. This is my beloved Son listen to Him.
Jesus exodus story – He went before us. He suffered for us. He plowed the path way for us. He calls us to follow where he went.
When the sun had set, a deep terrifying darkness enveloped Abraham. There appeared a smoking brazier and a flaming torch which passed between the split pieces of animal offerings. It was on this occasion that the Lord made a covenant with Abraham. Normally both parties would pass through between the animals, but here only God passes through showing his willingness to suffer for us. Abraham makes no promises, but simply believes in God’s promises.
When we finally get the picture and move on, God is with us. We do not walk alone! In the year 2010, the evil one has stolen our Christian tent of faith. The mother figure, the father figure, the church, Christianity, marriage, the family, the right to life, what it right and wrong have all been under attach, under mined and stolen by a great big lie!
Every possible issue is in a crisis today except any of the above! Are we asleep? Every crisis we have today is caused by a lack of the practice of our Christian faith. If we are to remain a free people, we must embrace and embark upon an exodus journey and lead this nation back into a covenant relationship with the Lord.