Saturday, March 7, 2009

Not Giving Up on our God: 2nd Sunday of Lent 8 Mar 09

Don't Quit

Today's Readings

It is a challenging story, this event in the life of Abraham and his son. No different is the Transfiguration event in the gospel we read today. The more we advance in our modern world, the more difficult it is to grasp the reality of the Abraham story. What parent today would give a second thought to a God asking that a child be offered up in a sacrifice such as happened to Abraham. He, above all else, was a man of genuine faith. In today's culture, no doubt, he would also be considered, perhaps by many, as out of his mind. He made no protest to God's "command" that he take his son's life. Blind obedience, perhaps. Most would counter with "Crazy!"

So, what is the purpose and the message of this particular Old Testament event? We might even ask, "Does it have a real purpose in our very modern world?" Why would God "order" a faithful man to go so far as to take his son to a distant place, build an altar of sacrifice, and be poised to plunge a knife into his son's body? This is a loving God?

What we might ask ourselves is this: How do I react when I find myself in circumstances that demand sacrifice in my life? Can a parent identify with this event when he/she learns his/her only son is being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan? Probably some can.

Today all of us encounter circumstances that test our fidelity to God: circumstances that are genuine sacrifices that on the natural surface seem senseless. Perhaps the current economic depression that has eaten up so many employments will drive many away from God. Certainly the attendance at Masses and other devotional activities has not shown a marked increase. Some, unfortunately, have walked away from God in anger and frustration.

Today's horrific and terminal diseases like AIDS or cancer are perceived by many who want instant cures to be signs that God really doesn't care about his people. Today's frequent family challenges brought about by so many different kinds of addiction -- alcoholism, drug misuse, and among the newest forms of addiction, Internet pornography -- have become reasons for many to ignore God and his graces.

All of this might be reduced to two questions: First, if my life is so damaged by any or several of these ills, how can I believe God loves me? Second, in times when prosperity of whatever kind abounds, am I faith-filled enough to remember to give credit and thanks to a bountiful God? St. Paul's words in the second reading today remind us: "What do you have that you have not received?"

Not trusting in God's love and forgetting his gifts to us are surely avenues that lead to the loss of one's faith. The Abraham event and the life of Jesus Christ himself are reminding to us that in moments of severe challenge and in abundance we should not give up on nor forget our God.

For this poster, the picture became a moment of recalling two thoughts: in the middle of the "coldest" of circumstances God's love flows through. And secondly, even challenges can become sources of beauty if studied peacefully and carefully.