2014 Lent 37

Fortress_of_Guaita_2013-09-19

Mark 12:1-11

Today is my birthday.  Yep, today, this Wednesday of Holy Week, which means that my birthday falls during Lent this year.

My wife’s birthday is in May.  Her birthday never falls in Lent.  Lucky!

But my little brother’s is March 16.  That means that, regardless of where Easter falls in any given year, his birthday will always fall in Lent.  Poor wretch!

But my birthday, April 16, sometimes falls during Lent and sometimes not.  Most of the time not, in fact.  And for that I’m grateful.

But because my birthday happens to fall on Holy Wednesday this year, Mark 12:1-11 is a reading in the lectionary–today, on my birthday.  And it has all the great makings for a birthday reading.

There’s a wealthy man, a father, as we soon learn.  And this wealthy man purchases a vineyard and starts to develop it.  He builds a winepress, puts up a fence, and even builds a watchtower.

So my mind is beginning to race.  My oldest daughter is living the dream right now.  She’s studying for a semester in Florence, Italy: right in the heart of Tuscany, excellent wine country.  Add to this that my dad and stepmom are on their way over there right now.  They’re going to stay for a few days in a villa with my daughter.

So, being my birthday and all, and being a fairly creative guy, my mind begins to construct a complete and utter fantasy.  It’s going furiously; I can’t seem to stop it.  But it’s my birthday, so what the hey.

So here it is: my dad is that (sort of) wealthy guy from the parable.  He’s so smitten with his visit to Tuscany, that he buys a villa complete with a vineyard today, on my birthday, with the idea that it will be a family vacation house for now; but, who knows, he may decide to will it to me someday as an inheritance.

But the particular villa he buys (it was a really good deal, after all, for he is also a frugal man) is in need of some repair.  So he puts up a fence, rebuilds the dilapidated winepress, and, more for added room for guests than for any other reason, builds a tower (with a furnished apartment and incredible view clear down to the sea).

So far, so good.

But then I continue reading the Gospel.

Of course, Dad lives in America, as do I, and my daughter (despite her present Italian escapade), and all family members, extended and immediate.  So, of course, Dad has to hire a manager to take care of the place while we’re all making ends meet over here in our present American lives.

But then my fantasy is suddenly confronted by an offensive intrusion.  For a friend who was travelling over there decided to stop by, you know, to help Dad out by checking in on the place.  And he wound up mysteriously dead!

The Italian police weren’t much of a help either.

So I probably wouldn’t have thought much of it, freak coincidence or something, until a month or so passes and another friend who owed my dad a favor decides to stop by; and, same thing!  Dead!  Those unhelpful Italian police said they found his body floating face-down in the Arno River; but was surely unconnected to the villa.

Well, that got me thinking!

And now–in my fantasy, of course–Dad wants to send me over!

Don’t get me wrong, a couple of months ago I would have loved to go over and live the carefree life of a vineyard owner in my villa-to-be.  But now, what with those two deaths and what with the unhelpful Polizia, I’m a little worried.

That’s when I read on and discover in the parable that the brazen manager is indeed responsible for the first two deaths and is even heedless enough to kill the owner’s own son.

Gulp!

But, hang on a minute!  I remind myself, this is my own daydream.  I need to come back to reality.

Yeah, that’s right.  It’s my birthday, sure.  But beyond and above that, it’s still Lent.

And this is a parable Jesus is teaching.  It’s not really about my birthday at all, but about Christ, and about how people refused to see the gift of God–the man Jesus–right in their midst.

So, okay, I’ve talked myself down from my fantastic cliff.  Still, is there something I can take away from today’s Lenten experience, something in this reading that is of value for me on my birthday?

And then I see it: the people of Christ’s day largely didn’t see the gift of God in their midst; perhaps I’m not seeing enough of God’s gifts in my midst.

On this day then, this Holy Wednesday at the end of Lent, my birthday, I am extremely grateful for my family–both those with me and those abroad; my friends; and the work God has given me to do.  Can’t wait for the softball game and Tex Mex tonight!

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2 Responses to “2014 Lent 37”

  1. Jeff Ewer Says:

    Happy Birthday, Brother! Keep on keepin’ on.

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