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First Sunday of Lent, 2016

Sharon Norton

Associate Sharon Norton begins our Lenten meditations. In current idiom, she points out that God’s paths for God’s people are often unexpected, challenging and invite us to courageous and loving response.

Greetings all,

Come July 5, I will be a grandmama. My daughter-in-law Rachel is pregnant with her first child, our first grandchild. Did I mention that Rachel is Jewish? Did I mention that our son Jim converted to Judaism? Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Or rather, in this case, Miriam, Rachel and Jim!

So in the midst of our family’s biblical identity crisis, I reflect on the readings for the first Sunday in Lent.

I have always imagined the Bible as a kind of mystical road map that tracks the human search for identity from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane. Along the way, the Old Testament tells us how too often our Jewish forefathers and mothers were forced to remake themselves in foreign lands, only to have terrorists drive them out once again. The Jewish people repeatedly called on God for proof of their Chosen identity; and each time He gave them the strength to relocate and recreate themselves. What he did not give them were permanent visas to the Promised Land.

Their descendant, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, fared no better. While taking a 40 day rest in the desert from his work as a homeless preacher, he was confronted by the original terrorist who challenged his identity. If he was the Son of God, what was he doing in the desert? Why not be relevant and bake some bread; be ambitious and take a power job; be awesome and fly away in the arms of the angels. To which Jesus replied, in essence, that he was not about the GNP, the upper 1% or histrionics. That’s not who I am, says I am, who am.

Finally, St. Paul instructs the Roman followers of the risen Christ that they do not have distinctive passports to salvation. The Word is stamped in their hearts and comes out their mouths. It matters not if they were born Jew or Greek. Everyone who calls out to Jesus from the heart for deliverance from terror adopts His name and will be saved.

May we too come closer to our ecclesial identity this Lenten Season.

Love, Sharon


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