It is very easy to think we can cut God down to our size. That may sound bizarre but it happens when we create God in our own image; a God who reflects our values, who boosts our ego, who never challenges us. Today's scripture gives us pause for thought.
In the first reading from Exodus, Moses covers his face, afraid to look at the burning bush which symbolises the divine presence. God, it is clear, is awesome. Yet God is not remote, but one who sees the suffering of the Hebrew slaves and promises to bring them freedom. This is God who has slowly revealed himself in history, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Even so, God is greater than the greatest human understanding, for when Moses asks God his name, the reply is dizzying. I Am Who I Am. God is not one more thing in a universe of things. God is not one more force in a world of forces. God is the source of all life yet greater than all life, God is the power behind all human knowledge and yet beyond human u...
The preface is the long part between Holy Holy Holy and the Eucharistic prayer itself. Today’s preface is special for the first Sunday in Lent. It says that ‘By abstaining 40 long days from earthly food, he [Jesus Christ] consecrated through his fast the pattern of our Lenten observance.’
My eye was caught that word abstained. It’s not a word that you hear often these days. To abstain means to deprive yourself of something that you could justifiably have. Something to which you could help yourself. It means that you ration yourself, or deny yourself something. It could be food, it could be alcohol or tobacco, it could be a simple pleasure like going to the cinema – yes, I have known people abstain from cinema on the grounds that Lent is a time for seriousness.
Goodness it all sounds a bit grim.
But look again and you start to see a deeper meaning.
First of all, each time you deny yourself something in Lent, it increases your self-control. All of...