March has begun and we are in a season of extremes in weather, a time of transition. While the calendar tells us that spring is coming in a couple of weeks, we may have a snowstorm or two still due. While the sun is higher in the sky, the winds of March can drop the temperatures in minutes.
In the readings for this Sunday, we hear of extremes: the Israelites enter the Promised Land and eat of the grain of that land for the first time. But God’s gift of daily manna, and quail, cease.
March, in the Holy Land, is the time when the first barley harvest is nearly ready, but there can be heavy, heavy rains. Any farmer can tell you how precarious a harvest can be.
In the Gospel — depending on which set of readings are used in your parish — you will either hear the Gospel about the blind man receiving his sight, or the Prodigal son. Both men experienced extremes: sightlessness to sight; riches to poverty — and riches again.
No doubt each of our lives is like this: scattered with extremes. Not all the time, but enough that we can relate to these readings. Even in the church around you today, you will see extremes. Since we enter Daylight Savings Time this month, you will notice a difference in the daylight, or lack of it, at church from this week to next week. There may be newly lit candles, as well as burned out vigil lights. What about an empty baptismal font where there is water the rest of the non-Lenten year?
This week, you will also notice an extreme change in color — there was purple last week and now there’s rose (pink) this week. While we are still in the season of Lent, we have come to the very middle of Lent. So we rejoice, for just one day in the midst of our penitential season, that Easter is near. We use a color of rejoicing for this Laetere Sunday: a pink color like the sunrise.
Think about your own life. Have there any been times, just this week, when you went through extremes? Happy to sad, rich to poor, well to sick, ignorant on something to clarity, loneliness to companionship? If so, you felt just like David did, being anointed by Samuel, or the Israelites reaching the Promised Land, or the blind man seeing for the first time, or the Prodigal Son finally understanding.
As you think about it — and look at the candles on the altar — reflect on how, even in those extremes, there was a little glimmer of light. As Jesus said, as he made mud to heal the blind man: “I am the light of the world.” That, like the love of the Father, in all the extremes, is unchanging.
Kasten is an associate editor of The Compass and the author of multiple books.