Jar a-tilting, oil spilling, aroma filling, nostrils widen.
Hair uncovered, tresses flowing, oil clutching to her locks.
Soft voice speaking to her weeping: “Thank you, Mary, for your gift.”
A poem/prayer based on John 12:1-8, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Fifth Sunday in Lent.
Illustration from a 1684 Arabic manuscript of the Gospels, copied in Egypt by Ilyas Basim Khuri Bazzi Rahib (likely a Coptic monk). In the collection of The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Md. (on page 51 of the .pdf copy of the document released by the museum under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license).
I’ve never worried before, O God, about the younger son’s repentance. I’ve always gratefully assumed he walked the roads of sackcloth and of ashes. What a shock his father’s welcome must have been!
But now… I wonder.
Was he another twister of the truth? Was he another one who turns the world around his little finger? Did Narcissus blush with shame at his temerity, his lies? And did the pounding of his heart betray his gratitude or hidden glee?
And now… I wonder.
In that Great Somewhere, do you wait for me? Do you wonder when I’ll lay aside deceit – delusion sweet for me, unwitting lie to you – and truly bring my starving soul back home? Does the pounding of my heart betray my gratitude or deeply hidden lies?
Yes now… I wonder.
A poem/prayer based on Luke 15:1-3, 11b- 32, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Fourth Sunday in Lent.
Their sins caught up with them, those Galileans, when their blood got mingled with their sacrifices; not to mention, those unspeakably perverse and foolish people crushed by falling blocks when Siloam’s tower fell: Well. I knew it would catch up with them.
No, seriously, Jesus, wait. I’m talking now.
Have you not said that God is just? Have you not said that God is righteous? Have you not said that God will not be mocked? Not even mocked by cracked foundation stones?
No, seriously, Jesus, wait. I’m talking now.
When I’ve been foolish, yes, and sinful, I’ve owned up. I’ve said, “I’m sorry,” even (sometimes) made amends. I’ve done my best (sometimes) to make things right with them and you.
Should not your justice fall on them as well as me?
OK. I’ll wait. You’re talking now.
No, seriously, Jesus, are you kidding me? They weren’t egregious sinners? They weren’t different from me? And what? It’s me you summon to repentance?
Oh, great. So I’m a fruitless fig tree now? Have you not noticed all this time I spend proclaiming your divinity, your righteousness, your way? And while you’re looking, see where they bear far less fruit that I…
Well, no, I know, I’m not exactly perfect…
Well, yes, I know, I’ve many things to change…
And yes, I know that I’m the only one who really can change me, and yes, I know I really can’t change anyone else but me, but…
No, seriously, Jesus, wait. I ache for this poor broken world, for all this suffering Creation. Why can’t the evil suffer for the ills they bring? Why must the good endure the pain instead?
No, seriously: Why?
All right. In ignorance unblessed, I’ll keep my eye on me.
A poem/prayer based on Luke 13:1-9, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Third Sunday in Lent.
Photo of the And Jesus Wept statue at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Oklahoma City, OK. Photo by Mike Krzeszak; used by permission under Creative Commons license.
You see us here, all level on the plain, and You, Yourself, are standing right with us. You stand no higher than the lowest one, and You look up to none.
Imagination strains, for sure, to see a world that looks like this imagined plain, a world where no one stands upon my toes and claws my shoulders to step on my head.
And yes, You’re right to tell us how this comes about: Abandon hate, do good to those who harm, bless those who offer curses, pray for those who concentrate their power. For certain, any violence we offer them will fail.
Far, far a surer thing to shame them, Jesus, yes. They think, they say, believe they’re in the right to pay so little for a day of labor, make us choose between a tank of gas and visiting a doctor.
They’re wrong, but in their sense of righteousness is this: They have a sense of shame. When we refrain from violence, they pause, at least, and think. “Am I so clearly in the right?”
Yes, Jesus, this could work. Except… It… Almost… Works. Come, Savior. Your people need Your love.
A poem/prayer based on Luke 6:27-38, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, 7th Sunday after the Epiphany.