Remember last year, that period between the outbreak of Covid 19 and the production of the vaccine! There were moments of fear. Will millions die? Will I be one of them?
Normally, we believe we can manage our planet. Even climate change. We know there are solutions even if the will to implement them is not yet fully there. But Covid, at times, seemed beyond us. It was everywhere. Despite all precautions you could even pick it up in hospital. My brother did.
Among the many lessons we have learnt in the past twelve months an overriding one has to be that reality is bigger than us. Since the dawn of the scientific age 400 years ago we have believed that, if we keep searching, we will find the solutions to all our problems. But the more we advance in our technology the more the goal seems to recede. We, collectively, are part of something much bigger than ourselves.
This can be a threatening thought or a liberating one. It will threaten us if we really think we can solve all our challenges through research. It will liberate us if, having done all the research we can, we let go and trust. It is, maybe four years ago now, but I am still awed by the story of those Thai boys trapped in a cave underground when the waters rose all around them and left them only a small breathing space. Their location was discovered and rescuers used every technique known to get them out and they succeeded. But no one could be sure the rescue effort would be successful until it was.
The story is a parable of our lives. We can do everything within our power to live healthy fruitful lives. But while we know what happened yesterday, we do not know what will happen tomorrow. The pope is in Iraq today and we pray he will not only be safe but will build the bridges he has set out to build. But we cannot be sure. What we can do is trust. ‘Whatever happens, Meg, it will be for the best’. These words are taken from a letter of Thomas More to his daughter while in the Tower of London awaiting execution in 1535.
In today’s account of Jesus driving out the sellers of cattle and sheep from the temple we sense the bitter taste of a bond gone lifeless. The Jews had given up on the covenant and turned the house of God into a market place. Sometimes marriages are like that where nothing remains of the original promise. There is no more trust in the relationship. All that remains is a desire for immediate satisfaction.
We are bigger than that. We are part of something we do not yet fully understand. Is it not possible to live precariously? Trusting? Never certain. Always a pilgrim.
7 March 2021 Lent Sunday 3B Exod 20:1-17 1 Cor 1:22-25 John 2:13-25