by Jeremy Skog
The Second Friday of Lent
Jeremiah 5:1-9 Psalms 69, 73 Romans 2:25-3:18 John 5:30-47
Arnold Toynbee is credited with saying that Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder. In our Civilization, one of the most popular artistic subjects has been the Annunciation, today’s feast celebrating the angel Gabriel’s message to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus. I suspect a reason for this popularity is that artists acutely feel the challenge and burden of the need to create and at the same time wish to inspire us to do the same.
All of us are constantly called to face challenges in our lives. We are not called because we are particularly worthy, as the passages make clear: “There is none righteous, no, not one” or “I can of mine own self do nothing.” We never really feel as ready as we could be for any task, but what matters most is that we are willing to try.
This is what I see as the challenge of the Annunciation: will we take up the call, no matter how impossible it may seem?
While many see Lent as a time of denial, I have always preferred positive, improving resolutions: “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther” simply, be better than we are today, but only if we put ourselves in the position to be tested.
As Toynbee noted, the greatest challenge is not that we might fail, but that we might not have the drive to try. Thus, today we are asked, will we be willing to bear the cost? As Mary replied, “Nothing is impossible with God.”