March 22, 2019: A Reflection for Friday of the 2nd Week of Lent

Genesis 37:3-4,12-13a, 17b-28
Mt 21:33-43, 45,46

Yesterday I began the usual Spring, Summer and Fall ritual of watering the various growing things on the grounds. Suddenly, as I half-mindedly opened the faucet to allow the flow of life-giving water to refresh some trees, it hit me. The fruitfulness of our lives is a matter of whether our inner channels of life are open or closed to the Spirit. Both readings today speak to this human capacity to be either open or closed to the Living Water of God’s Spirit in Christ. What we see today is the result of closing off the stream of life and the consequences of it. We all have experienced within ourselves one or other of the darker side of human nature: jealousy, inner blindness, violence in some form, etc. It’s all too familiar. If we’re honest, I think we can say we have done some of these things at least once in our lives. But we have also learned what it means to allow the flow of the fresh, clean water of life to quicken the life of God in us and pour it out on others.

Some of you might remember the three words Br. Ronnie repeated to us continually: awareness, awareness, awareness. What was he talking about? The awareness he was speaking of is the awareness of where we are coming from in our thoughts, words and actions. In today’s first reading, only Reuben seemed to be connected to the source of his thoughts and impulses. He counseled his brothers not to kill Joseph but to put him in the cistern so he could rescue him. Awareness. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of a landowner putting everything he had into his precious vineyard. Then comes the tenants who acted out of envy and treated the landowners’ servants with violence. A classic case of acting out of the dark places within, acting from unawareness of our motives and intentions.

So now what? It doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Why these readings occur in Lent is not to discourage us but to give us hope that we can let God transform us into life-giving people of the Spirit. If we open the floodgates of our hearts to the action of God, if we open our inner sight to our intentions and motives, we are on the path of life, spreaders of the Kingdom of God, led by the Spirit of God and therefore Children of God. It’s the seedbed of joy. A garden of life given to the living God for the life of the world.