Sunday, March 24, 2019

+ 3rdLent +

O, Jesus. . .I desire to make the ever-present threat of damnation a part of my habitual and practical vision of the world, not in order to fear you, but in order to become more intensely yours.                                             Teilhard de Chardin

In Lent, Jesus minces no words, not to threaten or coerce, but that we will become more intensely his: “Do you think they were any guiltierthan anyone else who lived in Jerusalem?”

We need to repent when the suffering of others becomes theirproblem, their faultand has nothing to do with me:

He didsmoke like a fiend. What can you do? They all stuff themselves with fried food. Why did he go home with that stranger? No one told them to come here.

We need to repent of taking our own survival as a sign of favor, or at least as the meritedfruit of an ordered life.

As Jonathan Swift said, “It is remarkable with what Christian fortitude and resignation we can bear the sufferings of others.”[1]

Catholics take thislife seriously.  We don’t believe in reincarnation.  This is no drill, no trial run.  We are related to, accountable forone another.

How we treat one another now, the compassion we show now, the persons we become hereare all we bring with us beyond the grave.

Facing death reordersour priorities and teaches us wisdom. Love, truth, justice and human rights alwayscost something personal.

How much time I still spend worrying over what doesn’t matter and licking wounds that would heal, if I’d only stop picking at them.

We all need discretionto live every day we have and, when the time comes, to die with dignity.

We are alivewith the infinite and eternal love of God onlyif we are not afraid to spendourselves, not afraid to die in order to hand on life to others.

One of the joys of growing older is discovering how precious life is. How important it is to put time into relationships we care about.

How important it is to nurture and care for people in their joys and sufferings, in their living and dying.

Which brings us to the Parable of the Gardener.  Yes, he will come to judge the living and the dead. He will look for fruit from each of us. Yes, we could all be cut down, as useless, barren branches.

This fearsome truth exists withinthe compassion of God revealed in Jesus, theGardener, the soon-risen One who has shared our sorrows and borne our grief.

He has never given up on us, never despaired of anyof us.  He still lovingly prunes us, hoping we will bear fruit that will last.

“Sir, leave it another year, while I hoe it and manure it; then perhaps, it will bear fruit.”

He wants you and I to be with him, to be more intensely his.

[1]Quotations for the Christian World. ed. Edythe Draper. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House, 1992.  10862.

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