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Monday, April 14, 2014

Scripture Reading: Matthew 23:37—24:2
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” (NRSV)

Lent is often a time to reflect on how we react when things are taken away from us, whether by choice or not. Sometimes stones are removed one by one. Sometimes all is completely destroyed. It can leave us—as the passage says—desolate, feeling isolated, or simply lost.

St. Ignatius of Loyola advised us to maintain what he called the grace, or freedom, of detachment—that is, the ability to know what brings us closer to God and what takes us farther away. These are the things we do that are life-giving and fulfilling and those that are not. This discernment is a lifelong process, but it is one that can be made easier when not caught up in the often superficial outer layers of ourselves and our lives.

When all else is stripped away—whether that’s stone by stone or all at once—the remnant that is left can be what others have called the “essential core” of who we are. When we are desolate, we can go into survival or crisis mode. Or we can build up from our essential core, adding new strength by doing what is life-giving. It can give us the grace, and opportunity, to transform ourselves into beings who are sure of our fundamental values, resilient, but above all are truly aware of and reflecting and living in God’s presence.

Lord, grant us the grace to always know your presence, especially when we feel as if we have nothing else. Amen.

Written by Niala Boodhoo, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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