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John 12:20-33 "Learning to Die" Lent 5B

23cuaresmab5How much do you think about death? My first thought is that I hardly think about death at all. I’m relatively young at almost 42 years old, and mostly healthy. I plan to live a long time, working until I’m in my mid-70s and, like all my great-Grandparents, living well into my late 80s or early 90s. But as I ponder Jesus’ words here in John, death is often present in my thoughts, just below the surface, bouncing around in my unconscious.

Yesterday I was throwing a football with my son. After a few throws I felt my rotator cuff become sore and had to stretch and be careful not to throw too hard and injure myself. My thoughts began to wander towards my 42nd birthday coming up next week.

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Mark 8:27-38 "Who Do You Say That I Am?" Lent 2B

53ordinariob24Lent is here and already I am behind. I simultaneous long for these seasons and the spiritual gifts that blossom from introspection, and I fear them for the very same reason. Several weeks ago I was very excited about this series on Viktor Frankl and the meaning of suffering, but as challenges mount in my life, I feel less inclined to think about suffering at all. There are days when I think, "Enough of suffering, enough of heartbreak, enough of the macro-suffering of violence, torture and corruption, enough of the micro-suffering from my own anger, judgmentalism and unwillingness to face the truth about myself. But Lent is here and the spiritual tasks of this season are clear. It is the season of reflection, repentance and facing the truth within. 

Most important spiritual journeys begin with a question and a search for an answer. The Gospel Lesson from Mark hits us with a profound question from Jesus, "Who do you say that I am?" This is a peak moment in Mark’s narrative about Jesus.  Before this chapter lies a series of miracles and triumphs.  Jesus feeds 5000 people, heals the sick, and wins theological arguments with the Pharisees.  He is definitely on the rise, his fame stretching throughout the small region of
Palestine. After this question is answered, he sets his face toward Jerusalem, where his challenge to the Temple priests and the status quo will be more direct. 

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