Daily Reflection
February 27th, 2000
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Hosea 2:16-17, 21-22
Psalms 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13
2 Corinthians 3:1-6
Mark 2:18-22

There are some marital vows pledged to the people of Israel through the Prophet Hosea in today's first reading.  Israel has heard herself called "unfaithful" and referred to as a prostitute, but God comes courting her.  To do so, "God will have to woo her out into the desert."

Jesus, in today's gospel, refers to Himself as a "bridegroom," Who endorses the not-fasting by His disciples while He the, bridegroom, is still with them.  This is something new, because the religious leaders and even the followers of John the Baptist keep the tradition of fasting.  Jesus refers to His teachings as "new cloth" and "new wine" which can not be associated in any way with the old traditions.  Rather, new wine is poured into "new wineskins."  The new teachings and relationship with the loving God is being poured into new hearts and only those who have new hearts can wear the "new cloak."

As beautiful as these readings are today, we must rejoice and enjoy what Paul writes about us in today's second reading. 

We all carry around with us some form of personal validation and identity, usually in a plastic or laminated form.  Some may have our pictures on them, others define us in numerical configurations.  Paul, for his credentials claims us as his letters, "You are our letter, written on our heart, known and read by all."  As letters, we are not written in ink, "but by the Spirit of the living God."

This is more "new wine" for us to drink deeply.  We recently sent Valentine cards to those we love.  Jesus is sent to us to be both, the wedding announcement and the "bridegroom."  We are the stamped, sealed and delivered reports of the marriage consummated in the life, death and resurrection of that same Jesus.

Those valentines were paper symbols, which were trying to express varying degrees of affection.  Jesus sends us as His letters to His beloved and espoused creation, and not with varying degrees of affection, but with as much of His love as we have drunk and worn.

We are invited to be lured out into the desert to hear God's love for us.  We are so busy, we say, "Is there a 'virtual desert' we can find on the net?"  We find it hard to find time to write letters even to our best friends.  It does take time and silence to hear God writing, through the Spirit, a letter of love, upon our hearts.  For all our business, we would stop to listen to someone telling us of his or her love for us.  God is always courting us and sending us and wouldn't it be terrible to be an empty envelope, sent by God, but nothing inside?

Today's readings are a new variety of wine and a new cloth meant to catch our attention and our hearts.  We are in the "sent items" file and not the "delete."  The "bridegroom" wishes to embrace us and then make Himself believable by how we ware our "new cloaks," and this is how we are dressed, addressed and sent as living letters, from God to those beloved in Christ. 

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