You are invited to the observance of a holy Lent. Join us in reading Holy Scripture and meditating on God’s Word. Each week we will meditate on the Gospel lesson for that week according to the Revised Common Lectionary (a set of prescribed Scripture readings followed by multiple groups of followers of Jesus). The lesson will be accompanied by a single piece of artwork to aid your meditation for the entire week, and that artwork will be the only image in the slideshow above.
Each day, a new meditation, written by a member of the Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal parish, will offer insight into both the scriptural lesson and the accompanying artwork. You can download the PDF by clicking the corresponding button.
The Gospel Lesson for the Second Sunday in Lent: Mark 8:31-38
Then Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
MONDAY IN THE SECOND WEEK OF LENT: meditation by Matt Farr
The image selected for today’s Gospel illustrates perfectly how I imagine myself feeling if I were in Peter’s sandals. Jesus’ withering rebuke leaves Peter crumpled, bowed by the harshness of his master’s voice. The composition illuminates Jesus’ remarks—Peter, his mind set on the here and now and keeping Jesus and himself safe from danger, is downcast and drawn inward. He inhabits a bleak landscape of dead trees and rocky ground. The blood-red sky ominously broods over this half of the scene. In his attempt to save his life, he has lost it. He may gain the world, but is it a world worth gaining given the cost? Jesus belongs to the verdant landscape, his gait strong and upright, his hand raised to the blue sky which appears to bring rain to the lush, green hills beyond. The stark division in
colors of land and sky is further emphasized by the divide between the outstretched hands of Jesus and Peter. Jesus’ appears to be still within reach, but Peter’s has already begun to close up, perhaps reflecting the grasping we all do when trying to save and preserve something or someone from fear of loss or injury.
We all too often live in fear; fear of the unknown, of the other, of each other, of financial ruin, of injury, of sickness, of death, of letting go. We do our best to preserve ourselves from that which we fear. We are Peter, not willing to accept the cost and burden of discipleship. It is safer to keep the Messiah’s identity secret. No feathers are ruffled, nothing has to change, life can continue as usual, and no boats are rocked. Jesus’ rebuke reveals how insidious the desire to play it safe truly is. Jesus called his disciples and the crowd then, and calls us today, to flip the script—don’t keep calm and carry on! Step up, embrace the gospel, do the gospel, and you will find that life takes on new, far more valuable meaning than it ever would if you keep your head down and live in fear.