Fourth Sunday of Lent. Year A. 26 March 2017

“You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord.”

We have mentioned John’s use of dark and light. This fourth Sunday, and yet another scrutiny in the Liturgy, is Rejoicing Sunday and often rose coloured vestments are worn (where the celebrant is game). Light triumphs in the darkness!  Four weeks of purple is one week too much!  A little lesson there for all, but especially for the RCIA candidates.

As I write, five people have died in the past 30 hours on country roads in rural Victoria, a similar total to the aftermath of the attack on Westminster. The South Sudanese crisis grows, the human tide of refugees becomes a flood in Iraq and so it goes on…is there any light anywhere? One is tempted to raise the words of Jesus about the leaders of his country in his own day: “They were condemned as blind, thieves, robbers, strangers and hirelings who do not care for their sheep.”

Lesson one this week is that Jesus is a good shepherd, and later in John 10:14-18 he, in a sense, comes clean and proclaims himself as The Good Shepherd. So take heart, continue the journey and, like the blind man, come to the point when, like him, each of us can say “Lord, I believe”.

The story and the liturgy is realistic. We current believers and those coming on board our barque, must be prepared to face the hazards of the journey and the trials of discipleship.

Like the blind man, our journey will be doubted by friends. Some will be abandoned by parents, questioned, insulted and cast out by our civic and religious leaders. But the journey from darkness to light must continue and time after time we move from belief in Jesus as a good man, through an acceptance that he is Prophet; past the position of “Maybe he is from God” to “Lord, I Believe.”  Then comes true worship and light will enter our lives.

” I am the light of the world

Whoever follows me will have the Light of life.”

 

Mons Frank

 

The Third Sunday of Lent. Year A. 19 March 2017

“Tormented by thirst”.

These words open our reflection on the Scripture this weekend. The theme dates back nearly four thousand years, but the deeper truth impacts on each succeeding generation. We may not be in a physical desert with Moses, but the lived experience of our times introduces us to so many dark, lonely, isolated and depressed places. For many, ice seems to be the symbol and reality of escape and for some, an answer.

This week the liturgy proposes an alternative, two thousand years old, that has for people down that timeframe, satisfied them and given hope and a purpose in living.

Note again the importance of this reading as the basis of the appropriate scrutiny for the Candidates preparing to be baptised or received into full Communion at Easter.

John’s Gospel tackles the gift of Jesus differently to Matthew, Mark and Luke. John presents to us the great themes:

The conflict between light and darkness

Life and death

The world below and the world of love.

 

John offers us the great signs that Jesus works:

Water into wine

Breaking bread

Giving living water

Being raised on a cross…

…and interprets them for us and asks us to believe that they are signs that reveal God’s extravagant, conquering and abundant love, an absolutely glorious love for each of us. No wonder John appears in our liturgy now as we go deeper into Lent.

Somehow, we need to find the appropriate way to present this vision to our thirsty world, find the courage to talk to one another about what it means and to live it!

We need to recapture the spirit of the Samaritan woman; to go to the town and tell the people

“anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again”.

 

Mons Frank

Second Sunday of Lent. Year A.   12 March 2017

Remember that the readings for Lent are very deliberately chosen. Year A readings, in particular, are designed for the community about to be enriched by the blessing of new members, particularly those received by the path of the RCIA.  The journey to faith is enriched by recalling many of Jesus’ journeys into the desert. Up the mountain and into the Samaritan town.  Each to remind us that we are on a journey to Easter and the hope that by the time we get there, we will have the strength to finish what needs to be ended in our lives and have found the courage to begin what needs to be begun. Along the way, there will be moments of trial (desert, temptation) and moments of grace and enlightenment (Lord, it is wonderful for us to be here).

Then, back to the journey.

I remember the story of the American-Israeli violinist, Ithal Perlman, struck by polio as a child. A scooter gave him mobility and he played sitting in it. One concert evening, a string broke early in the performance. He continued, to the amazement of the audience, using the three remaining strings.  There was tumultuous applause at the end. Invited to say a word he stunned the audience by simply saying “Our job is to make music with what remains.”

It occurs to me that could be our task this Lent.

Our press has not been great, some of our leaders have not presented themselves adequately at the Royal Commission. Members of the Clergy and Religious have dishonoured their vows and many of our sisters and brothers are having a long holiday. On his way to death in Jerusalem (and many were plotting to do away with him), Jesus was let down, derided, abused and betrayed; but he continued and Resurrection came.

He still remains with us. Let us strive to make music with what remains knowing that he said he would be with us till the end of time.

Let’s make music; happy music, uplifting music, rich music, wonderful music, Good News music, music that in time will have people once again smiling and rejoicing with Resurrection joy.

 

Mons Frank

First Sunday of Lent. Year A. March 5 2017

“When he calls on me, I will answer him.”

The scholars ask us to keep in mind Matthew’s delight in reminding his readers, both Jew and Gentile, of the many connections between what we call the Old Testament, and what Jesus said and did.

Israel is often termed God’s people, the chosen ones, even given the title ‘Son’ in a collective manner. Signs of love were exchanged; a covenant was entered into and much of this is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. The three scripture quotes used by Jesus are all from that book. Underpinning this relationship is the expectation that whereas a father may discipline a son, the son is not entitled to test the father.

“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah (Deut. 6:16).

Many scripture scholars suggest that in a biblical sense, the gospel passage today ought to be headed ‘the testing of God’s Son’. Remember those words from Hebrews 4:15 “…who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.”  Where Israel in the wilderness failed, Jesus passes every test and, indeed, turns the tables so that the Devil, in a sense, finds himself tested.

Jesus really answered the call of his Father.

Lent stirs us to reflect yet again and find ways to answer God when he calls us.

 

Mons Frank