Rev. Kelly Murphy Mason
Scripture: The Gospel of Luke 7:24-27
Selection: When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowd concerning John: “What did you go into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’” (7.24-27)
So often we search outside ourselves for spiritual justification. We hope that the right sacred scripture, the right faith community, the right religious teacher will illuminate life for us. Certainly, scriptures, communities, and teachers can all prove incredibly illuminating. But we express our sincerest relationship with God in the way that we ourselves lead our daily lives and inhabit a quotidian reality. We are asked to pause for a moment, to look within ourselves before we look without, whether we are looking to the royal palace, to the temple, or to the wilderness.
Time and time again, Jesus instructs that the realm of God is within us, that same space many of us are desperate to avoid. Our avoidance is obvious, almost irrefutable. What else could explain our tendency for spiritual tourism? Convinced of our inner poverty, we set out into the world as mendicants, begging for blessings that are already ours.
We can be taken prisoner by our own limited thinking, limited feeling, limited hoping. John the Baptist sits in jail while Jesus sings his praises and explains the real meaning of his ministry, which is to prepare the way for those who would follow, those who are willing to commit to being born anew in the spirit. When Jesus questions our spiritual commitment, he allows us to be surprised by our own responses, the fervent as well as the wise. Sometimes ours is the prophetic voice we have been waiting to hear.
Focusing Questions: What spiritual sustenance are you seeking this Lenten season? Is it something readily available to you in stillness? How often have you found God already residing in your own heart, a place you would never expect to find God? Have you looked there recently? More importantly, have you looked there today?
Prayer: God who moves in our midst and within our very souls, help us to recognize your nearness to each and every one of us, wherever we might find ourselves! Breathe new life into our weary bones. Usher in that spirit that is ever and always born anew. Accompany us through those deserted place we are determined to travel. Grant us the strength and courage to take a spiritual journey to the interior, where you have piled high such precious treasure for us. Give us the depth of devotion required from all your pilgrims. Let us be messengers of the Good News; let us be zealous converts, too. You find us when we are lost, God – may we not stray too far. Make our way plain, we entreat you, not without hardship, O God, only plain. Amen!