Can we experience the Lenten journey if we think we already know where it ends?
Old Testament Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13
For Sunday, April 3, 2011: Year A – Lent 4
The Lord really keeps Samuel busy. He is always sending Sam on this or that errand, a lot of the time with messages that are certain to be poorly received. After working with the Lord all that time Samuel might have got used to questionable journeys with unexpected outcomes. Still, when the Lord tells him it is time to head out to anoint a new king, Samuel is scared.
Cover Story for a Call
Go to Jesse the Bethlehemite and anoint a new king from among his sons? Samuel says, in exasperation. If Saul finds out he will kill me. But the Lord comes up with a cover story that satisfies Samuel, so he goes to Jesse’s. His sons present themselves one by one to Samuel, and in spite of Samuel being impressed; the Lord passes on all seven of them. Samuel asks, are you sure that’s everyone?
David, the kid, out with the sheep was not even called in, was not even considered by Jesse until asked. When David finally arrives, as surprised as the rest of his family that he was called out of the fields, the Lord tells Samuel, he’s the one.
Called Into the Unknown
The Lenten texts are full of people being called into unexpected and unknown situations. As many times as I have questioned what the lectionary-ers chose, I think they have gotten it right in this Year A cycle of readings.
Lent is a six-week journey that reflects our complete life’s journey. Lent is a journey that culminates on Black Friday with making the Stations of the Cross. It is a journey of preparation for baptism, of deepening in our faith, both of which are another way of saying Lent is a Journey that ends in death. We don’t know where we are going, were we will end up. As much as we plan or assume the future is unknowable.
Learning the Meaning of Life
The Rule of St. Benedict begins with the instruction to renounce the delusion that the meaning of life can be learned, and calling adherents to take up the greater weapon of fidelity to a way of living that transcends understanding.
Not only is the where unknowable but so is the why. As Samuel is called by God to follow God out into the unknown, we are called to follow Jesus through the journey of Lent. The problem is we think we know where it ends. In the death and Resurrection.
The Hardest Question
Maybe all this following God into the unknown is just the truth about the way life is and any delusion that we know where we are going or how it will end keep us from living in some fuller or truer way. Can we experience the Lenten journey if we think we already know where it ends?