Welcome to week 3 of Lent
In Lent 1 – we were in the dessert
In Lent 2 – we went up the mountain
In Lent 3 – we are in the Temple in Jerusalem
What all of these locations have in common, is that one expects to encounter God in them.
As I reflected upon our Lenten journey and the readings for the three weeks, a question kept reoccurring for me: Where are the women in the story and how they were encountering God?
From week one, what for instance was Mrs. Noah of the Arc experiencing? The Bible after all does not actually give her name, however, according to Jewish tradition her name is Naamah. I imagine she had plenty to say about the clean-up, cooking and relationships on the ark. I am sure she was encountering her everyday God in her kitchen
And from week two, oh, do I wonder what Sarah had to say to Abraham when she learned that he almost killed, or sacrificed, their son – no more camping trips for those two! There is no way that escapade missed her hearing. We know the encounter was something special for Abraham but how did it move Abraham.
And in week three we hear the short recitation of the Ten Commandments, we know there are many other laws received at Mt Sinai, laws which defined them as a community. Reception of the Law was the defining event in their relationship with God, male and female, people and animals as well as aliens. Today we listed to an angry delivery of the Ten Commandments an appropriate segue into John’s Gospel where we see and hear about a very angry Jesus.
Now let us take a few minutes to review the structure of the temple
- Holy of Holies
- Court of priests
- Court of Israel aka Court of Men
- Court of women
- Court of Gentiles
Note that the court of the Gentiles was huge, in their initial vision the temple was a universal house of God, a place where everyone could enjoy a place to pray, a home for the nations. One has to wonder what happened to that vision over time as the Jews decided that the Gentiles really did not need all that space, assuming they were not going to be saved anyway, their space was re-appropriated and filled with the practical items one would need in a temple: clean money, cattle, sheep, doves and all their accoutrement. John’s symbol-rich gospel has Jesus objecting as much to the dislocation of the Gentiles as to all the marketplace activity in the temple. John’s emphasis on encountering Jesus serves, as an important reminder that the season of Lent should focus on an authentic desire for an encounter with the divine. Most probably that will occur in our everyday lives.
Now let us bring the question full circle, to women with whom we share community: How are we doing with encountering the divine this Lent? We certainly have had our share of mandates designed to preserve the health of the community: wear a mask, stay in your room, wash your hands, quarantine still on, etc. And we might even have experienced some of what Jesus refers to as “knowing about human nature:” Why do I have to stay in my room when “everyone else” is out or I have been well many more days than Sr. X, or I am so tired of paper plates.
We have been presented with the opportunity to believe in the Jesus in our midst when we “saw the signs” of what he was doing.
40 days of Lent, a time for prayer, fasting, acts of love… sounds to me that we have had several unexpected, unplanned opportunities to encounter the divine. Where are the women – they are here. I wonder what’s in store for us next week.