First Sunday of Lent

March 5, 2017

By Fran Gilchrist, CSJ
Latham, NY

Gn 2:7-9; Ps 51:3-6, 12-13;
Rom 5:12-19; Mt 4:1-11

Against you only have I sinned. Ps 51:6

This psalm, prayed daily in Latin during the formative years of religious life, finally has yielded a meaning that is more in tune with the God I have come to know. The God I relate to now is the LOVING ONE challenging me to a better way of living for myself and my vast human and earthly family. My sin may look as if it’s against my neighbor or against creation or the environment
but there’s more to it.

Some years ago I had the great fortune to visit the California Redwoods. One of those giants stood there in her majesty beyond expression. We just looked at each other for a long time. I didn’t say a word, nor did she. It would seem that a plant that high (in 2006, the Hyperion measured in 379.1 feet–six times higher than the Statue of Liberty) would have correspondingly deep
roots. No, (put out your fingers and lock them, right and left) the roots are very shallow. They wrap themselves round each other. They hold each other up.

There it is. There is a meaning, finally. “Against you only have I sinned.” When I gossip, it’s not just that person I’ve sinned against. I’m entwined with the whole human family. When what I do for somebody takes the last energy of the day, I’m strengthening everybody. Last year, when we dug up perennials from an abandoned garden and replanted them in their sunny new home, we spread God’s glory. It works both ways. “Against you only…”

Help me see you, God, in every person and in all of
creation. Help me realize, in perhaps a new way,
that what we do to each other really is done to you,
for all the good and all the less-than good.

Personal Challenge
Help me today, loving God, to see you
in a new way. Against you only.

Check back on Thursday, March 9th, for the next reflection.

Courtesy of Ministry of the Arts

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