WEEK 4: “BY PAYING OUT GOOD DEEDS AND NOT PAYING BACK BAD ONES”
By Clare Priory’s Parish Priest, David Middleton O.S.A.
‘GO HOME, SAID JESUS, YOUR SON WILL LIVE.’
JN 4: 43-54
March 12, 2018
Jesus is made welcome, and yet he is wary until he appreciates the faith and deep concern of the court official. Reassured, the court official ‘started on his way.’ It is a journey that will bring him and all his people to faith in Jesus.
How does my journey of faith reflect the events in the Gospel? The man had nowhere else to go; he entrusted his whole self and his son to Jesus. I’m sure that his example of faith is for me; it asks for my trust in Jesus’ word. The story is spread over two days, so not a quick fix, it asks for patient faith; and the boy has ‘started to recover’, so maybe there is some way to go.
I ask the Lord to give me more patience in my prayers, and all the while to give me a rock-steady trust and thankfulness, for when he blesses me he blesses those around me.
‘GET UP, PICK UP YOUR SLEEPING-MAT AND WALK.’
March 13, 2018
‘Do you want to be well again?’ What a question! Could there be any doubt?
But maybe the gentleman had been there such a long time that his weakness has become part of his identity. What would he be if he were changed? And to crown it all, he doesn’t even know Jesus.
What a story of Jesus’ courage and kindness. He is fated to attract the hostile attention of the authorities, even among the crowd, as he goes about doing good all the time. But that is Jesus’ way that we must follow and that sometimes we sing about: Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare? Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?
Meditations for Lent 2018
Theme of this 2018 Lent retreat : “Seeking Peace in Prayer”
"In humility and charity, by fasting and giving, by restraining ourselves and pardoning, by paying out good deeds and not paying back bad ones, by turning away from evil and doing good, our prayer seeks peace and obtains it."
- St. Augustine, Sermon 206, 3
‘… UNTIL ITS PURPOSE IS ACHIEVED…’
March 7, 2018
Jesus’ encounters with the scribes and Pharisees did not diminish his respect for the Law. The Law was a gift from God. It was a manifestation of his love for his people. And, in today’s first reading, it proved his closeness to them. For centuries it provided a framework for their living. And the Prophets enlivened and enshrined the hopes of generations. With the coming of the Messiah, all that love and all those hopes come to full realisation. How can I adopt this in my life?
St Augustine famously said, ‘Love, and do what you will.’ I can do what I will if I really love, because then I will always respect the laws that give protection and the strategies that nurture the common good, I will always seek what is best for those around me. It might not be easy.
A few years ago I visited one of our Augustinian communities in Sicily. Their hospitality was all-embracing. There were going-away presents upon our departure. I gained a 30 cm ruler that bears a motto from St Augustine in Italian: ‘La misura dell’amore è amare senza misura. – The measure of love is to love without measure.’
‘LET US COME BEFORE HIM, GIVING THANKS’
March 8, 2018
I was struck recently by the prayers of thanks offered at a funeral. We were thanking God for all the ways in which my friend had been blessed, gifted, nurtured by the Lord. The thanks were truly genuine. But would it not be better to say thank you every day, rather than wait for a summing-up?
I could show myself more grateful to those who are so good to me, and who, by being so good, are actually ministering God’s love to me today. I could appreciate how patiently friends treat me in my slow-wittedness or unwillingness and who thereby reveal to me something of the patience of God today. I could value more those kindly words of guidance or encouragement uttered by members of my community today.
As today’s psalm says, ‘O that today you would listen to his voice…. Let us come before him, giving thanks.’
‘…YOU MUST LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL…’
March 9, 2018
At last, an end to the sparring between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees. The man comes face to face with Jesus with a genuine question and receives a most fulfilling response.
What has been the purpose of my Lent so far? To come face to face with Jesus? To peel away some of the layers that hinder?
‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’
I hear Jesus say those words to me, encouraging words, encouraging me to engage fully, heart and soul, mind and strength. That’s it! The whole of me; there’s Lent’s purpose.
‘TWO MEN WENT UP TO THE TEMPLE TO PRAY.’
March 10, 2018
I think that the Pharisee got off on the wrong foot. He was doing so many good things: he had gone to the Temple to pray, his prayer was initially a prayer of thanks, he fasted and paid his tithes.
All that is missing is a ‘selfie’ to frame all this potential goodness! And all ruined by his pride and by his scornful judgments of people in general and of the tax collector in particular; so, not a prayer to God, but a statement to himself. He doesn’t seem to need anything or anybody. And he utters thirty-eight words too many! Whereas the tax collector knows what he needs: mercy, and he hopes against hope that the Lord will grant it. The Lord does; and all for seven humble words.
I borrow the prayer of the humble tax collector, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’
‘YES! GOD LOVED THE WORLD SO MUCH.’
JN 3: 14-21
March 11, 2018
When I read or hear this passage of St John’s Gospel, I hear in my mind the setting of ‘God so loved the world’ in Stainer’s The Crucifixion.
It is a frequent companion when I am driving. The music with its emotion and its strength conveys the impact of Jesus’ words: that God acts out of love not out of a desire to condemn. The trouble might be that if we do not accept the love we run the risk of condemning ourselves.
St John’s Gospel puts things into contrast, light and darkness, truth and evil, faith and unbelief, salvation and condemnation.
Clearly, Jesus urges me to respond to God’s love, to follow the rich seam of light, truth, faith and salvation, so that all that I do is ‘done in God.’