Tell Everyone: A Reflection on Today’s Mass Readings

Acts 5: 17-26            Psalm 34          John 3: 16-21

God SO LOVED the world.  

The whole world?  How can that be?  

How can LOVE be so all encompassing?

Our world:  Filled with domination that lays hands on…

Judgments that would silence our love…

Our world:  Filled with jealousy and jails….

The God who SO LOVED– hears the cry of the poor.

I sought the God who SO LOVED– and He answered me…

Delivered me from all my fears.

When the poor one called out the God who SO LOVED– answered me….

and from all my distress He saved me.

Small hearts, broken hearts, tethered hearts,

sword-pierced hearts- conditional love in our hearts

Lead to sin, prisons, preferred darkness and death

 

BUT GOD SO LOVED THIS WORLD- NO CONDITIONS- FULL SENDING

HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON WAS GIVEN!

 

Now all worldly hearts cease to blush with shame

And faces are radiant with JOY!

Let us go then to the temple of this world,

and “tell everyone about this life”!

The Other Side of Ashes

It will be smeared on my forehead this Wednesday.

 That messy ash. That smudge to mark me.  As a follower of Christ.

Not to mention- it means the start of Lent.  The penance, the pruning, the picking up of crosses.

 All to be a follower of Christ.

Ashes there to remind me.  I’ll return to the dust.  This side of life is short. Better hope the smudge wears off before too many see.

I have to admit to being fooled into thinking that real beauty is only what is pleasing to the senses and  what looks good on the outside right now.  And not that those aren’t wonderful and good things:  The smell of a rose.  The sight of a beautiful face.  The mysterious landscape in a painting.

But sometimes life is messy.  And circumstances repulsive to me.  I don’t move toward them but run away…even from myself.  I don’t see beauty on my face  at all- just smudged on ashes on my face.  Just me returning to dust.

But I’ve also lived through too many Lents now.  I know how this works out.  I’ve seen those black ashes can become beauty….that smudge become my path to glory.

And it’s worth the work to push on through to the other side of ashes.

What’s on the other side of ashes?  Resurrection. Glory. Beauty. And Light. There’s only one way to do the work of black ashes into beauty.  Mostly I don’t “work” at all.  Surrender is the key….surrendering that mess to the One who came to transform it.

 Do I believe He can love me enough this year, to meet me here in ashes?

I do.  That’s what we say at a wedding.  I do believe He loves me.  I do believe He can transform this lowly body into a glorified one. (Phillipians 3:21)  I do believe He can take me to the other side of ashes.

40 Days will bring me there.  I wonder what He has in store for me this year.

 I wonder what the smudge will teach me- about Him, about myself and about others.

But more than anything else, I’ll wonder about the other side of ashes.

 Where I’ll see Him, me, everyone, and everything in radiant beauty and glory.

See you on the other side.