For a follower of Jesus – for one who seeks to be holy (one with God) – and to bring the rest of creation and all people/s along for the ride – what is fullness of life? We might look to John 10:10 and see that Jesus’ words there tell us that he came that we might have full and abundant life. We might speak of our sacred responsibility to protect and value and serve human life in all its moments, with all its challenges and differing ‘incarnations’ in abilities and needs, from conception through natural death. We might speak of enhancing the experience of life for those in need, living in violence, exposed to constant threat, suffering, alone. We might speak of the Word who is Life (see John 1), the life in creation and of our world, or perhaps of eternal life. All of these hold great importance.
Today, a selection from Deuteronomy 30 is the first reading of the liturgy. Within it is the oft quoted, “I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life then…” Well and good, this is a rich passage for reflection and study. But on the day after Lent has begun, I am interested in the lines that follow. They answer this question: How are you and I to choose life? We are given a trinity of instructions. By…
— loving the Lord, your God —
— heeding God’s voice —
— holding fast to God —
for THAT will mean LIFE for you (v.20)
Given Lent’s beginning, how do these three echo in you? How about choosing today one above to reflect on further? Select the one that attracts you the most or gets on your nerves the most – both are speaking to you! Some kindling for reflection on each is provided below. Don’t overthink as you read (there’s more there than you need — WAY more), but notice what calls out to you simply and gently. Create your own additional brainstorming, and follow the Spirit’s promptings to discern the invitation to you today for reflection and/or action!
Loving the Lord, your God. Who is your Lord, your God? Is it the God? Is it the one revealed by Jesus’ way among us? Or an imposter? Would you and I rather hold onto our image of God than meet the living God? What do we need in order to be open and vulnerable to such a meeting? Is your God (like Aslan in CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia) good, but not quite safe and predictable? Does God surprise you? How do we love the One larger than the cosmos and tinier than our tiniest microcosm, for whom time and size and limits make no sense, but who became poor for us in Christ in the incarnation and the cross? (See Pope Francis’ Lenten message, #1 for great insight here, link below — and Franciscan theology and spirituality). What does love like God’s call you to? Since God is Love, IS a pouring all of self out for us; how do we pour ourselves out in turn for our Trinitarian God? Is this God your Lord? What would that mean? Are you to love God in the fasting that God wishes (per Isaiah): in releasing those bound unjustly, in serving, in freeing, in giving to especially God’s poorest ones?
Heeding God’s voice. Implied is that God’s voice is heard. How else could we heed? So, how do you and I listen? Do we listen? Do we know that to have an ‘open ear’ is to be obedient? How does ‘obedience’ sound to you? What disciplines do we need in order to better listen? What gets in our way and what helps us? Where and to what do you listen? Would this call you scripture reading? Reading some classics in spirituality? Reading and learning from saints who have listened and loved as Jesus did? How do you listen to bird song, construction work, keyboarding, baby’s crying, elders’ subtly expressed (or not so subtly expressed) needs, the cry of the hurting, the longings of the bound, waterfalls, the regrets of the sick or dying, planes landing, sharp voices, whispered words, vows exchanged, music and song, your own or another’s heartbeat, prayer and worship? Do we have selective hearing and heeding — as we hear God or others? What are we invited to open our ear to today? Are we willing to consent to what that will do in us, and call us to?
Holding Fast to God. I admit, this is the one I find myself most attracted to. What would it mean to hold on, hold fast, to not let go? What other things or time fillers or attitudes or perspectives might we have to release to put our arms around God? Can we learn to hold fast from the way Jesus did with Abba, as he lived and worked and prayed? What if we believe we are already held fast by God, and we have just to return the favor? What would that do to our perpective? What must be released from our hands, from our attention, and what must have more of us? How do we hold fast to our call, to our sisters and brothers, to the Word, to the Church, to the process of growth and transformation? How do we hold fast when what we experience is difficult or deadening? How do we hold fast when we want to flit and fritter. or we’re bored? Does God need us to hold on too? What could such holding fast mean for God?
If we do these three things, it will mean life for us.
I wish us each this kind of enriched life – the kind of full life God wishes us to have, the way of life and love embodied in Jesus.
Choose life then, friends and fellow disciples, in the small and larger ways you find an invitation to through Deuteronomy’s offerings this day. Happy Lent, Day Two (D2)!
* Pope Francis’ Lenten Message 2014: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/lent/documents/papa-francesco_20131226_messaggio-quaresima2014_en.html