Saturday, March 3, 2012

Second Sunday of Lent - 2012

Let me begin by asking a question:  Is there where you are today?  Or, Have you been there before?  And what is this “where” and “there” of these two questions.  Let me quote from the second reading for the Sunday liturgies: St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 8, verse 31b --that is the second sentence in the verse.
If God is for us, who is against us?
If you ever felt that you were caught in a corner because of circumstances that tried your faith and you questioned God loyalty to you, give attention to the first reading Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13.  Here was a faithful follower of Yahweh who had an almost cruel choice to make following Yahweh’s asking him to take the life of his beloved son.  It is a request from God that is so far from the ordinary expectations that we have for our Creator God.  Surely Abraham must have asked the question that many of us have had to face at one time or another in our lives:  Is God truly for us? 
Probably the current politicization of moral issues (media term = social issues) in particular the matter of contraception has forced many people to feel the same kind of question:  Is birth control really what God is asking of me?  Or consider those who have pounded the pavements, going up and down stairs seeking employment?  Or recall how during the course of one’s married life, the glamour and the excitement, the love between partners seems to have died.  How about the reality of caring for an elderly parent or spouse whose mind is shackled by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease?  Ponder the pain parent or grandparents have when a child loved so dearly seemingly looses it all and takes the lives other young people.  Think about the faithful people who regularly attend Mass and have to deal with a lack-luster parish life.  Lastly, ponder the confusion and hurt felt by children, wives or husbands who live in abusive situations.   All of these and so many more situations that reflect the realities of human life weigh down upon you or your neighbor.  In all of these instance surely there have to have been times when anyone who follows Jesus might wonder “Where is God?”  You might say that there is some Abraham in me:  I am being asked to carry a cross that is so heavy and I do not feel God easing the burden.
So just as Abraham was about to accomplish what must have been breaking his heart, God speak to him:  hold on.  Do not harm your son.  What I want from you is that you listen to my voice.  It is no different for us today.  No matter what the cross is that you are carrying, the reality is that God is asking you to listen to him.
Recall the famous and marvelous event on the mountain top:  Jesus is together three of his closest followers.  Suddenly things, strange things begin to happen.  Imagine the scene.  Put yourself in the picture as you read the story or hear it read.  There is Jesus but in a new way along with two Old Testament greats, Moses and Elijah.  Remember God spoke from the clouds to the disciples with a simple message:  “This is my son, my Beloved -- listen to him.”  Listen to him!  Listen to Him!
The main question we have to face in whatever circumstances that weigh heavily upon us is this:  Do you always ultimately believe God is for you.  He will not abandon you ... not just most of the time but whenever you truly need his graces and his presence.  Do you think that God would not be ready for you when he has already given us his Son not just in presence in our world but given us his Son, hanging lifeless the cross.  No need we have can outweigh the gift of the Resurrection and the forgiveness of whatever sins there have been in life.
What we are called upon during these early days of Lent is to accept the moments that make us ask “Is God for me?”  We have to trust God.  We have to know that God is our representative, our advocate.  When it is difficult to accept a particular cross, realize that pain or frustration, is the invitation to ask ourselves:  “How strong is my faith?  Do I realize that God is for me?”  That’s the challenge.  A good beginning in these early days of Lent.