Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday in the 5th Week of Lent
Fluttering unto Life

Readings: Genesis 17: 3-9;; Psalm 105:4-9; ; John 8:51-59

Whoever keeps my word will never see death…

We’ve often had occasion to comment on the many changes that beset us. Some are more major than others, but together they often tend to confuse and disorientate us. At one moment, for example, we may be confessing to a priest that we failed to abstain from meat the previous Friday. And then, at the next moment, we’re told that abstinence is actually optional. It all seems quite confusing. How to negotiate the winds of change?

Jesus’ comments in the gospel today on death and life provide us with guidance. But first, we might consider what eternal life looks like in the midst of rapid and frequent change. An image comes readily to mind, one that we’ve used before. It’s the image of a kite fluttering gracefully in the breeze. It is able to negotiate the winds of change so beautifully because it’s at once firmly anchored and yet also able to go with the flow of the wind currents. If only we could all be like that. But it’s not easy. There are at least two risks involved. The kite might simply lose its anchor and be blown away by the wind and so get lost. Or, like those with whom Jesus is speaking in the gospel today, it might cling so tightly to the earth that it forever remains grounded, never quite takes off. In both these cases, the kite fails to fulfill the reason for its existence. In a sense it remains dead. Until, of course, someone like Jesus comes along. His concern is to gather the lost and to free the grounded, to help all to enjoy the fullness of life. And he does this by rooting us in his word, in the Father’s covenant.

On our part, this takes place through an act of remembering. As the psalmist tells us: remember the wonders the Lord has done. These memories include, of course, our memory as a Christian community of all that God has done for us throughout our history. But they also include the very particular and personal memories of how God has been caring for each of us in the past. When we do this, when we recall these memories, we actually find ourselves becoming firmly rooted in God’s memory, which is a very powerful thing. For the Lord remembers his covenant for ever, his promise for a thousand generations… Securely anchored in the knowledge that God never forgets us, we can then allow this kite of ours to fly, even in the midst of uncertainty and change. We can, for example, learn to discern an appropriate penance to undertake on Fridays, even when the law seems to have been relaxed and it’s no longer compulsory to abstain from meat.

Sisters and brothers, who is flying your kite today?

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