Wednesday, March 8, 2017

2nd Sunday of Lent

On this second Sunday of Lent we continue our journey through Salvation History, focusing on those people and their lives that reveal to us God’s loving and saving grace.  Lent is also a time to prepare for or remember our baptism, so with that in mind, let us turn to our readings:

Genesis 12:1-4a
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Matthew 17:1-9

We open with a story from the book of Genesis where we are introduced to the first great patriarch, Abraham.  Of course, he hasn’t yet received this new name.  At this point in the story, he is introduced as
Abram, son of Terah, and is called by God to go forth from his land and from his relatives to a land that God will show him.  All this with the promise that the Lord will make of him a great nation.  God is essentially asking Abram to give up everything based on a promise of great blessings.  This reflects a great deal of trust that Abram must have in God’s promises.  Trust that is reflected in our Psalm as we sing, “Lord, let our mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.”  But where is the reference to baptism in this story?  Just as Abram was chosen and blessed, we are all chosen and blessed by our baptism.  During the Rite of Election as the catechumens are called down to approach the bishop, we sing, “you are chosen, you are blessed, you are a sign of God’s love.”  Just as Abram was chosen.

Our second reading is from Paul’s second letter to Timothy.  Timothy as you may remember, was a protégé of Paul’s and a leader in the community in Ephesus.  Paul reminds Timothy (and us) that though there may be hardships, we can find strength in God, and his saving grace is proved in the risen Christ.  As for how this passage reminds us of baptism, we hear it in these lines, “He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works, but according to his own design.”  We do not “earn” baptism.  It is a gift freely given, and must be freely received.  Through our baptism we are both made holy and called to be holy, washing away any previous sin (including original sin) and following the way of Christ.

Our Gospel from Matthew is the story of the Transfiguration… when the glory of Christ is revealed to Peter, James, and John up on the mountain.  During that moment Jesus stands before them in brilliant light, with Moses and Elijah standing at his side,  two of the most trusted prophets called by God.  It is a powerful moment, and the Apostles are almost speechless.  Not only does this show the mutual trust between Jesus and his chosen disciples, but with the voice of God coming from the cloud shows us the Father’s trust in his Son.  It is a pivotal moment in the Gospel as Christ’s true nature is revealed.  Our baptism is also a moment of transfiguration.  We cease to be what we were and become someone new.

Final Thoughts:

Trust is a funny thing.  It comes so naturally to us when we are born, as if God placed it in our DNA.  A child’s trust that his parents will care for them.  A trust in a friend or a sibling we know will always be there for us.  But trust can be, and often is, betrayed.  As we get older we tend to be much more cautious about giving or receiving trust because we’ve all been burnt before.  That kind of experience makes us stingy with trust.  But we need to be careful, because if we’re too stingy, we can find ourselves missing the important "calls" in our lives.  You’ve probably heard the saying, “Let go and let God.”  The story of Salvation, and in particular our readings for this week, remind us that God can be trusted.  That the promise of Jesus and the Gospel can be trusted.  That the promise of salvation through our baptism can be trusted.  We are no different than all the others we’ve read about today... Abram, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, John, Paul, Timothy, and even Jesus.   They had their doubts, but they were able to put those aside for the voice of God.  There are times where we too must put our trust in that voice, for only then will we find that our call from God is genuine, and that his love does not disappoint.

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