Wednesday, March 5, 2014

King David, Saint Kevin and Lent

Today we visited Gendalough, the remains of a monastery founded by Saint Kevin in the fifth century. Before reading the homily for our Mass at Saint Kevin's Church, you might want to read Seamus Heaney's poem about a miracle attributed to this saint, entitled Saint Kevin and the Blackbird.

Homily for a Mass 
at Saint Kevin’s Church, Glendalough

Saint Kevin is following us around today and he’s not a bad Lenten companion. But first, to King David.

Good King David is on his death bed and he calls for his son Solomon and tells him how to succeed, how to “be a man”.  Obey God’s law and follow his commands, and then you will succeed in whatever you do.

Jesus expands on David’s prescription as he instructs the Twelve how to go out and preach repentance. Don’t take any extra anything…just go! And don’t worry about where you are to stay…just stay there, and if they throw you out, shake the dust from your feet!

Kevin certainly understood this Gospel and this Jesus, who was to open his arms on a cross and let go of everything. Jesus, who was not just stripped of his clothing, but offered his life on the altar of the cross.

Kevin reminds us of Jesus, leads us to Jesus, especially when he stretches out his arms from a cramped cell to bring life to  a blackbird. Hear Heaney:

Alone and mirrored clear in love’s deep river,
‘To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays,
A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river’s name.

So what of us? Are we called to sleep on rocks, stretch out an arm for weeks, and fast all the while? Probably not, but we are called to labor and not to seek reward, forget ourselves and offer a prayer our bodies make entirely.

Perhaps we won’t be as dramatic as Kevin or as heroic as King David. But in how many little ways is God asking us to change?

 How does he want you to share in his cross today? Really. How?