Last Sunday's readings were all about sin -- in the first God delivers his people over to the Babylonians because they just won't stop turning away from him. In the Gospel we see the other bookend, with the Johannine reading about God sending Jesus to save us.
But what really struck me was this statement from Paul: "Even when we were dead in our transgressions, God brought us to life with Christ."
There's that line at the start of Dante's Inferno -- "I awoke to find myself in a dark wood."Dante is dreaming that he's at the entrance to Hell. And, once he realizes that's where he is, he thinks to turn around to leave. But he's told, oh no, there is no going back. The only way out is through.
When it comes to sin in our lives, I think we'd all like to do the same as Dante, go around it or back away from it. But I think the challenge of Paul is the same -- to salvation, there is no way around. There is no going back. We have to face what we've done, who we are. We have to go through.
And at that moment when we see ourselves as we are -- that moment when we see our cruelty reflected in someone else's face, when we wriggle like worms on the hook before the realization of our own pettiness (don't you hate those moments??) -- and we think we are terrible, horrible people --
That's the moment of truth. Because we are all that we see, and God sees all the same -- and he loves us just like that. Yes, just as terrible and messed up and silly and awkward as we are.
If you're looking for material for prayer here in the later days of Lent, try sitting with that a while.
Dante in the dark wood