St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Friday in The Fourth Week of Lent

Lent Week Four–Friday

Psalm 107 Jeremiah 23:1-8 Romans 8:28-39 John 6:52-59

Some treat Lent as a brooding self-deprivation calendar entry. Christianity, however, is nothing if it is not about choices. Ask Adam and Eve. And viewed under that lens, isn’t Lent an opportunity – an opportunity to strengthen our faith and forge a stronger relationship with God?

Psalm 107 calls us to “give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever” and to “give thanks for His unfailing love.” Not all subjects in Psalm 107 were so appreciative. Some “wandered in the desert wasteland” and some “became fools through rebellious ways and suffered affliction until they came to the Lord in their troubles, and He saved them.” And when enemies scattered the flock, “God gathered the remnants and brought them back to their pasture where they multiplied.” For “we know in all things that God works for the good of those who love Him.” Romans 8:28.

Jesus’ invitation is much more direct. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day.” “Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father so the one who feeds on me will live because of me” …..and “whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” John 6:52-59.

Implied in Jesus’ invitation is that not everyone will “feed” on the bread he provides. Some in the Psalm were rebellious. Some trust not in God but rather in earthly things.

So, who receives this “unfailing love”? Unfailing love is how the New International Version of the Bible translates the Hebrew word “checed”. King James, version: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men”, while other versions use “loving kindness” or “favor”, or “steadfast love.” All connote a love that is always present, always there, always available. Like any relationship, that love must be accepted. Do we accept God’s love? Do we accept the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we ACCEPT HIM? Do we accept that Jesus Christ is the only son of God the Father? Do we accept that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary; was crucified, died, and was buried; and on the third day ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father to judge the living and the dead? Do we accept God’s unfailing love? If so, what is the level of that acceptance? Does our acceptance occur only when we are wondering in the wasteland” or when everything is going our way?

Jesus Christ demonstrated his unfailing love for us by sacrificing his body and blood on the cross. He asks only in return that we accept him; that we feed on him. That we choose Christ.

According to Mark Twain, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” Today’s readings reveal God shows his favor and unfailing love on those who choose to accept him and accept and feed on his Son our Savior Jesus Christ. It is no more complex than that. It requires a sacrifice. Not as great a sacrifice as dying on a cross, but a true sacrifice, nonetheless. It requires a change of behavior, a change of priorities, and a change in our choices. Are we willing to make those changes?

How do we show we accept God’s unfailing love and the sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ? Faith of course, but maybe our acceptance of God’s love is reflected in our compliance with the command laid out in the road map provided to us: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. And if we choose to demonstrate that commitment in our daily lives, we will receive the unfailing love of God and the promise of Jesus Christ that we will be raised up to eternal life. The choice is ours, and the level of our acceptance is ours to choose as well. But isn’t the opportunity afforded by Lent a great place to start?

-Ginny and Brian Homza

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s