The first reading at Mass on Sunday, the 5th in Ordinary Time, is worth our returning to today, Ash Wednesday.
In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord of Hosts seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings.
And they cried out to one another in this way,
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.
His glory fills the whole earth.’
The foundations of the threshold shook with the voice of the one who cried out, and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said:
‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost,
for I am a man of unclean lips
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.’
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. With this he touched my mouth and said:
‘See now, this has touched your lips,
your sin is taken away,
your iniquity is purged.’
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:
‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’
I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’
As we begin Lent we are called to admit our fault, our sin, our mess. We are also called once more to know, live and share the love that God has for us.
We are reconciled because of our need and because of God’s grace. Or is it because of God’s grace and our need. Start at either point and the conclusion is the same – we are love and God is the lover.
Amazing! And Isaiah experiences this in his vision of the heavenly court. The God who loves us is no creature, no thing like us, but entirely beyond, other. The points of connection are that God is creature and we his creatures; and God is love and we are object of his love.
The two key truths of our faith – that God is creator and God is love. As we fractured beings get ready to make the most of Lent let us hold those two truths close in our minds and hearts and learn to live by them more faithfully, more generously.
Photograph, Chartres. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.