Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

THE PARABLE OF 2 TREES – Jer 17:5-10

February 28, 2013





Such contrast between different ways of being in this world!  The results make the distinctions clear, but by the time we pay attention it may be too late to change our habitual way of of thinking and sharing.  I hope not, since I’m so often like the 1st tree, the one in the desert, who acts like it can live without water, or find its own source.

The 1st reading of the mass for Thursday of the 2nd week of Lent  Jer 17:5-10  is one I found so profound I memorized it in the old translation. “Cursed be the man who trusts in man and maketh flesh his arm and whose heart departeth from the Lord. He shall be like  Tamarack in the desert and shall not see when good shall come.” The new translation  calls this miserable plant a “barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth.”

Cutting ourselves off from the love of God, just trusting in ourselves like this barren bush or Tamarack tree – choosing to grow away from the water. This hit my 18-year-old heart hard.

Then the contrast. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord his God. He shall be like a tree planted besides running waters that stretches out its roots to moisture. It shall not fear when the heat shall come. The leaves thereof shall be green and in the time of drought it shows no distress but still bears fruit. More torturous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways according to the merit of his deeds.”

Opening oneself to being attentive to what God wants of us seems the key virtue asked of us in this reading as well as the one about the difference between sheep and goats in Matthew 25. The main virtue of sheep is that they listen to the voice of the shepherd and follow their master. The tree that flourishes throughout times of drought is planted near the running waters, taking in God’s love and continually bears fruit that can be shared by all those who pass by.

Acknowledging that we receive everything and are not the source of our own lives, and thus gratefully share all our fruit seems the lesson. What the world would be like if enough live like this!  Homeland security would mean people would 1st of all have the security of a home, and enough to eat.



February 24, 2013



On the 2nd Sunday of Lent in 1950 I was led with several others up a winding road to the top of the hill where we had a commanding view of the Little Miami River Valley in Foster, Ohio. My heart was full of wonder and connection between nature and our liturgical year.

We read the Sunday gospel again about another walk up a mountain, the story of Jesus and 3 apostles going up to the mountain of Transfiguration in Palestine/Israel. These apostles were the same 3, Peter, John and James, who eventually went with Jesus during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane the day before he died. Apparently they had the same problem here as they did there, falling asleep.

This time they woke utterly astonished to see Jesus “… with his face changed and his clothing dazzling white and 2 men conversing with him, Moses and Elijah who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” Luke 9

In the history of the evolution of Lent, I understand this is given us on the 2nd Sunday as encouragement to be steadfast in the observance of the discipline of Lent. Last Sunday we went with Jesus into the desert where he faced temptations not unlike the ones we face. So now we need encouragement that we’re on the right path practicing the themes of Lent – prayer, fasting, almsgiving. The meaning of Lent is Metanoia – a “total turning around” toward God. We want to be ready to be with Jesus more fully as we move through those final days of his life, the agony and torture of good Friday, the emptiness of Saturday and the climax of it all – the triumph of Resurrection. This is focused during the review of our sacred history and the renewal of our baptismal covenant with the divine at the Easter vigil. It is hoped that in ritually celebrating such profound mysteries with our hearts open and ready, their power will pierce through our everydayness and truly transform our lives, that we too will triumph over death. “He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body…” Phil 3

The 1st reading is about the covenant God makes with Abraham, a bond which God will never break, and that he offers to each of us. GN 1

I was struck as though I never heard it before by the use of the actual word “Exodus” in relation to Jesus passage through death to the fullness of life. It is usually used in relation to the Passover which this year is celebrated during the same week as the Latin calendar’s Holy Week.

May all of us pass over from our small daily falls from greatness, our little falls from loving service, to embracing the exuberant fullness of a life of giving and surrender each precious day!


To follow the daily readings of the Catholic liturgical year:



February 17, 2013

I was 18, and eager to be trained to a deeper spiritual life. Not wanting to be a nun, I found a place where this could happen within my Catholic tradition, as a laywoman. I wanted to be effective to help change the world that even in 1950 seem to need a sort of spiritual revolution to transform the materialism that was consuming us after the WWII Western victory in 1945.

On Ash Wednesday, as Lent began, I was privileged to go to a small farm on a very steep hill with a group of 15. On the morning of this 1st Monday of Lent I had the job to feed the male goat and male sheep who grazed alone on the lower hill, segregated substantially from the ewes and nannies on the upper hill.

I carried 2 buckets of grain, opened the gate and placed one bucket in front of the goat, Solomon, and another in front of the sheep whose name, if I ever knew it, disappeared from mind long ago. Not so Solomon! As soon as I stepped back from the sheep, Solomon raced over, butted the sheep out of the way, ate his food and then sauntered back to his own bucket. Wow! I learned there that I had to hold Solomon, smelly male goat that he was, so the sheep could eat.

After doing my chores I went inside to join the group of 15 as we stood around and read the Scripture readings for the day to prepare for our trek to Mass. I don’t remember the 1st reading, but the power of the 2nd from the gospel of Matthew was indelible. MT 25:31-46

It was the parable about the last judgment and the difference between sheep and goats.

This was sure something to put into the marrow of my being. There the message still ignites. It is what we read still today, on this 1st Monday of Lent 2013.