February 23, 2020: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Associate Pastor’s Corner
Growing up, Peter Pan was one of my favorite movies and books. Flying over Neverland, dueling with Captain Hook, storytime with Wendy, I just couldn’t get enough of it. And for those who know the story well, you would know that one of the first times we meet Peter is when he is trying to capture his shadow. It got lost along the way, and Peter is relentless of finding it and attaching himself back to his shadow. And of course, who else but Wendy, coming to save the night by sewing them back together.
The Sacred Season of Lent is just a few hours away. For most of us, Lent is a time in which we focus on our shadows. This is something that some of us don’t like doing, but we know that it is a good thing for us to do. Focusing on our shadows—facing the very fact that we have shadows. We have our darkness, we have those regions in the vast nation of our hearts that which needs light, healing, and peace. This is why Lent is called what it is in the first place. “Lent” comes from the Old English word for “lencten” meaning springtime. Lent is a time in which we can focus on our shadows and find ourselves in a newtime, a springtime, a time of renewal. Lent is the spiritual version of Spring Cleaning, and boy, do ALL of us need that!
Yet, I would suggest that we do something scary for Lent. In this potential time of renewal, I would suggest that we do something that is scary, something that would cause a certain amount of fear and possibly anxiety: I suggest that, this Lent, we dive into the shadows.
How have I been hurt in my past? How have I (regrettably) hurt other people? What are those relationships that need healing? What grudges do I clutch onto? And what will I do in these 40 days to heal these riffs?
In thinking about today’s first reading, how are I continuing the cycle of revenge and violence? Do I unconsciously criminalize the homeless or other groups of people? Do I hold prejudged thoughts about certain types of people? How do I treat workers dressed simply, or people dressed in obviously expensive outfits—do I treat them both with equal dignity? And what will I do in these 40 days to heal these riffs?
Jesus was always convicted of enjoying the company of tax collectors and prostitutes and sinners. Who are the tax collectors and prostitutes in your life—and what will you do in these next 40 days to bring them human dignity, as a fellow child of the human race?
St Paul, in our second reading, reminds us that we are Temples of the Living God. This is not something that we will be, in the future tense. By virtue of our baptism, we are Temples of the Living God here and now, in the present tense. Yet, are we acting as a Temple? Are we allowing anyone, no matter what their walk of life, to encounter the Living God through our open hearts and minds? Do we have a red candle lit in the middle of our heart, reminding us and others that Christ is at the center of our existence? Can people find God when they find us?
We are—right now—the Temple of the Living God, yet, with any building, we too cast a shadow. What relationships, what people, what wounds do we shove into that darkness for us to ignore and forget?
May this time of renewal be a spiritual springtime, 40 days of transformation and light.
~ Fr. Isaiah Mary