March 9, 2014
LENT I (A)
All these I shall give to you, if you prostrate yourself and worship me.
– Mt. 4: 8-9
Author Lance Webb gives the story of a retired Protestant minister who had one favorite song which he delighted in singing at Wednesday night prayer meetings:
“No house, no land do I possess, but peace & joy & thankfulness.”
In time, the congregation grew weary of hearing him sing about “no house, no land,” so they gave him a house & furnished it….
He seemed very happy, but the next week he began again to sing his song. Suddenly, he broke down, unable to go further. The following week, the same thing happened. He tried to sing his song but choked up. Then he turned to his friends who had been so kind to him & said, “Take back the house, take back the furniture, but give me back my song!”
Webb writes that the dear man was right. What are houses & land without our song? What are bank accounts without the song God wants us to sing – the song of peace & joyfulness & thankfulness to be lovingly shared with our heavenly Father & our earthly brothers & sisters? Give us back our song!
During Lent, we need to ask ourselves the question raised by the ancient psalmist: “How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?”(Ps. 137: 4) It is a question aimed directly at life. What kind of people are we? What are we aiming for? What is our hope? What is our purpose? Are we among those that St. Paul called “enemies of the cross of Christ?” “Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is their ‘shame.’ Their minds are occupied with earthly things” (Phil. 3: 18 – 19). Are we the kind of people who never look beyond the horizon of self-interest, or do we see ourselves as citizens of the Kingdom of heaven, living under the rule of God?
Not every challenge rewards us with “success” as the secular world measures it. The good news of Jesus is that we do not have to be concerned about that. We can have a carefree attitude that will broaden our horizons, enlarge our sense of purpose, & enrich our lives with “the peace of God that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4: 7).
An experiment was conducted, in which 6 bees & 6 flies were placed inside a bottle. The bottle was turned on its side with its base facing the light coming through the window. At the other end, the mouth of the bottle was open. In that situation it was discovered that the bees will persist in trying to find their way to freedom through the base – until they die of hunger or exhaustion. It seems that the bees’ attraction to light is their undoing. The light shining through the base seems to convince them that there is no other way out; & so they press themselves up against the bottom of the bottle closing themselves off from every other possibility. Consequently, they cannot discover the opening at the other end of the bottle. The featherbrained flies, on the other hand, all get out of the bottle within 2 minutes. Seemingly unconcerned, they just keep buzzing all around inside until they fly out to freedom through the neck & out the opening. Thus, the bees remain prisoners of their own logic while the flies meet the good fortune that often awaits the simple.
What kind of people are we? Are we the kind of people who, in childlike innocence, trust in God’s promise? Do we trust in our Lord’s promise that if we follow Him we will know the truth & the truth will make us free? I would like to close with a prayer: “Lord, we want to come out from under the rule of all the earthly gods that blind us to the glory of Christ. We want to be citizens of your heavenly Kingdom, so that Christ’s joy may be in our hearts & that our joy may be full. Lord, give us back our song.” AMEN!