Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How does this relate?

Luke 13: 1-13

Today's Gospel lesson is one of those seemingly mixed bags. It always makes me wonder why the framers of the the liturgical calendar lumped some things together... were they on a deadline? Were lessons divided up by word count?

Today we hear Jesus consoling and warning in the same breath: The Galileans who were killed by Pilate were no guiltier than anyone else, yet if you don't repent, then you'll die the same way. Now wait a minute... which is it? The Message gives a clearer picture when it translates "... but if you don't turn to God, you too will die." As in really die. Die in so many ways, on so many levels.

When I am not focused on God, (or just unfocused) anything else can command my attention, get me off track and out of whack. Then little things that hardly matter irritate me and I end up in a funk for no good reason. I die to the joy of living, breathing, tasting, being in this physical incarnation. I die to the connection I share with other people, to my connection with God. Repent means simply "to turn". Turn from and turn to. My dad used to bellow "Time to turn to!" when he wanted us to get to work. And repentance is definitely work. It requires so much more than "oops, I'm sorry," or "awww I'm sorry... again." Being sorry means nothing unless it's followed by a change... a change of heart which leads to a change in behavior.

Next Jesus tells a parable about a fig tree which hasn't born fruit. The owner wants to cut it down, but the gardener says "let me fertilize it and give it another year... then if it doesn't bear fruit, cut it down." Okay... seems like we're getting another chance message here: one year to get your act together, or else.

But in the final paragraph today, Jesus heals a woman who has been crippled for eighteen years. That's a long time to be bent over in pain. He touches her on the Sabbath in the synagogue and she stands (straight up) and praises God. The end. (Well... the end of today's lesson.) So what's that got to do with repentance and fig trees anyway? How does this relate?

Tomorrow we'll read how everyone was furious, and how they will say it was because He was healing on the Sabbath. I don't think so. That's just the excuse. He touched a woman in church. And it distracted them from their focus on God. Jesus was focused, the woman was focused, yet all those detractors seemed not to notice. I'll bet KJS can relate. I can.

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