Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Lent, Day 12: a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline
This image comes, again, from the Chiostro della Scalzo (it's by Il Franciagio and dates to c. 1519). It represents a scene not captured in the biblical gospels, namely Zacharias blessing John in his childhood. I notice the juxtaposition between Zacharias' almost sterness and Elizabeth's tenderness, perhaps even sadness. In between is the prayerful acceptance of the young John. When the prophet finds out he is a prophet, it must be that the he is born again between sterness and sadness, between conviction and compassion.
The whole scene reminds me of what Paul wrote Timothy: "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." Timothy's religious life is a mixture of his mother's and grandmother's faith and of his spiritual father's zeal. Together, this nexus renders him equipped for the hard road laid out for him by God , providing a spirit not of timidity but of power, love and self-disicpline.
This is what I need to recall for Lent - that God is serious in calling me to renounce my sins and turn to follow him. And that God is loving, giving me his Spirit to enable the power, love and self-discipline necessary to make that turn and to live for him.