2nd Sunday of Lent, 5 March 2022, Bible Readings for Mass: I: Genesis 12: 1-4; Responsorial: Psalm 33; II: II Timothy 1: 8-10; Gospel: Matthew 17: 1-9
The second Sunday of Lent shares the powerful message of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. It is a message overflowing with so many powerful truths of the Gospel and our faith. It is a lesson on the prayer communion of the saints practiced by Jesus. Lessons of trust and the following of Jesus bring us also lessons of the mountain tops of Jesus. It is a profound lesson on the power and Presence of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And the list would go on as long as we allow the Holy Spirit to be our guide.
But this Lent perhaps we can realize that God would be calling us, yes to the mountain top but also, to the valleys of life, the places of everyday duty and grace. God calls us to the place of hope and excitement as well as the darker places of despair, worry, and fear. God calls us this Lent and every day of our life listen and heed the call of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
So often we find ourselves distracted by the endless cacophony of the noise of this world, of our lives. The endless chatter is found in the silence of text messages, social media posts, news, and alleged news posted online from sources more plentiful than the snowflakes in the mountains this extraordinary winter. The noise and chatter are intensified and amplified much like the sounds of a rock concert. It is easy to feel, at times we are surrounded by waves of words, messages, and sounds that fuel and inspire a turmoil of feelings that can batter and swamp our hearts and faith. As we begin our second week of Lent let us simply heed three key verbs of God as we listen to the call of God. Let us each and let us together Listen, Rise and exercise Courage as we follow the footprints of Jesus.
LISTEN: Peter, James, and John were overwhelmed by everything they had seen and experienced on Mount Transfiguration. Their senses, souls, and minds. were overloaded with their moment. God the Father cut through everything and simply affirmed the Presence of His Son, Jesus. He then instructed them simply to LISTEN to him. How often do we allow the distractions of excitement, worry, anger, guilt, greed, or lust to squelch and silence the Word of God, the voice of Jesus? Lent is an awesome time to renew, and maybe refresh our quiet places where we can best LISTEN to the call of God in our life. Take time for needed silence. During Mass, we use moments and places of silence to… Listen for, listen to God. During everyday life, we need places and moments of quiet and silence. Again to remember and listen to God’s Word but also to the gospel of creation in the wind in the trees, the choirs of birds, or the chorus of raindrops on the car. But we also must quiet our lives to listen to God in and through each other. Many times the Holy Spirit will speak to our hearts in the words, the smile, or the sorrow of a family member, neighbor, or member of the parish. And it is as we better learn to LISTEN that God will then call us to RISE!
RISE: This single verb contains so much power and purpose. It was after the concise message of God the Father, it was after Peter’s impetuous noise about building three tents for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, and it was only as the apostles focused on Jesus that they heard His word: “RISE”. It is from our places of listening, of quiet before God that we are then able to faithfully hear God’s call, in our lives. These two words express a most simple yet powerful formula for prayer and discipleship. It is from our listening we then are called to rise and follow on to whatever places and tasks Jesus would lead. So often we Christians decide we know what Jesus wants and we rise to the assumed will of God. We see this in our relationships, our liturgy, and our words. Then when we find ourselves entangled in consequences of our own making we stop and call out to God to untangle our lives. But as we learn to rise when and where God calls we find our ways blessed by God. Even if those ways prove difficult. Even when those ways bring us to the cross. But we cannot honestly experience a holy Lent unless we allow Jesus to bring us to His holy Cross. But it is then we also hear our Lord calling us to fear not but exercise courage.
COURAGE: God is calling us each and together as His holy people to LISTEN! RISE! and be COURAGEOUS! God leads and calls all who will heed and follow those glorious mountain-top experiences of faith and blessing. God had brought Peter, James, and John to the holy mount and transfigured, not only His Son before them but also their very lives. Our first reading from Genesis shares how God called Abram to Listen, Rise and follow Him to the promised land. Ever and always God calls!. And God calls us out of ourselves into God’s Kingdom, out of our finite faith and understanding, our tiny knowledge and devotions to grow in the fullness of… God. And many may be the times’ God’s call will bring us to face very deep and real fears. And then to be COURAGEOUS! With the healing hand of the Holy Spirit, we may be called by God to confront fearful wounds of fear and guilt. We will be called to the freedom of true penance for guilt and sins. We may also be called to the freedom of discerning the many traps of false guilt with which we may find our lives crippled. God calls us to confront our fears of following Christ more faithfully. Our fears of the future, of failure, ill health, or needs beyond which we can respond. God always calls us to courage and trust anchored, not in the waves and storms of this life but in His Presence and Love through all. our fears are conquered. It is as we follow the holy footprints of Jesus we take the steps of growing discipleship as we learn to walk with God, Listen to Jesus, Rising with Him from our crosses and seeing our fears conquered in His holy love.