Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent and Dewi Sant
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus, in today’s Gospel Mark 8:31-end.
“Rejoice always, keep the Faith and your faith and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do.” Dewi Sant, in his final sermon.
“I thank all the volunteers and the health care professionals at the vaccination centres…. just grinding out this victory jab by jab, blow by blow, against this virus.” Prof. Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer.
Today’s Gospel would have been shocking for the disciples as Jesus begins to speak of his suffering and death, which is why Peter reacts so strongly in rebuking him and then finds himself called Satan as a result. Although Peter doesn’t realise it, he’s tempting Jesus to find an easier way rather than follow what God is asking of him. In resisting this, Jesus has to repeat his words on two further occasions (Mark 9:31 and 10:33,34) before the disciples begin to accept what he’s telling them – how hard it must have been for him and them.
Perhaps it’s hard for us to hear, too, that we can’t have faith on our terms but must also follow in the footsteps of Jesus who walks where it can be so fearful to tread. That may be why, when faced with suffering, it can be tempting blithely to suggest that we all have our cross to bear rather than acknowledging the terrible and overwhelming cost that is sometimes involved. However, the pandemic has meant that suffering, loss and devastation have been inevitable for many people and the cost has been emotionally and financially huge. Self denial has been necessary in the restrictions that have been imposed but, after such a terrible ordeal, now that the vaccines are making a difference there may be hope on the horizon and joy may, in time, result.
That can be hard to hear for those who have been badly affected by Covid 19 and the words of Dewi Sant, “Rejoice always” may be ironic to hear as the pandemic continues today. How can there be rejoicing in such circumstances?
In his lifetime, David knew times of great challenge in leading a simple life, founding at least a dozen monasteries with a strong emphasis on hard work and making the sick and the poor a priority. Yet he also encouraged the community around him in doing what needed to be done and his words “Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd” – “Do the little things in life” – are still central for many today.
There are many little things that need to be done as roadmaps for emerging from lockdown are produced and as the Lenten time of inner reflection continues. Not everyone will have choice, power or opportunity to do great things – but many wonderful things can develop from the small. Captain Sir Tom Moore, whose funeral was held yesterday, raised nearly forty million pounds for the NHS by initially setting out just to walk a hundred laps of his garden and perhaps raise one hundred pounds. It was said of him by the commentator that, “He was the character who never intended to be what he became… A reminder that a profoundly ordinary Yorkshire man found an extraordinary way to remind a nation and the world that, even when there is mortality everywhere, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”
Faced with the mortality of Jesus, it was too much for Peter initially. Perhaps he and the other disciples were unable to hear that Jesus wasn’t only telling them that he would die but that he would rise again (Mark 8:31) and that those who lost their life for his sake and that of the gospel would save it (8:35). Jesus is giving hope for the future as well as the present and that would later be confirmed on Easter Day but, this time, trust was, understandably, an issue for his followers.
Perhaps that’s so for us too with much still to endure but the resurrection of Jesus, the lives of his followers and the saints like David and Melangell who have shaped the faith that has come to us today show that love and hope will not be defeated, though it may sometimes seem so at the time. Dewi’s challenge to do the little things remains and, during this Lenten time of reflection, perhaps we need also to renew trust in ourselves and to ask whether we are now the character we never intended to become and what little things need to be done in the days ahead.
With my prayers – pob bendith,