Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent

by Joan Castagnone

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones. — Isaiah 49:13

I am writing this on the roof deck of a beautiful house in San Juan Cosalá in Mexico. In front of me rise the mountains of the Sierra Madre. Behind me lies Lake Chapala, an extinct volcano, Mount Garcia, looming above its vast surface.

At times like this I feel very, very lucky. Or should I say blessed? I don’t know. “Blessed” suggests that I have done something to deserve this. I haven’t.

At the moment I am sitting here, there are the “victims of hunger, fear, injustice, and oppression” who do not deserve their plight. For about the quadrillionth time, a seeker asks how could a loving God allow such pain in the world.

* * *

I have been reading Elaine Pagels’ The Gnostic Gospels and came across Marcion (c. 140), a Christian from Asia Minor, who concluded that the unforgiving God of the Old Testament and the loving God of the New must, in fact, be two different gods. This is definitely a heresy that I can get behind. It wraps things up nicely. It is conveniently dualistic. I understand it. Mystery solved.

But maybe it’s too easy. Can God be so amenable to fragmentation? Sometimes I feel blessed. Sometimes I feel cursed. Can those states of mind be separated? Or does our endlessly messy experience give us a taste of the Divine?