Today begins the second week of Lent, so we will be talking about repentance, sacrifices and all the things that go along with Lent. But first we must put it into context, relative to the world today and why we need to hear this message.
Why is it important to be here today ? In this place surrounded by these people.
Simply put it is what I am about to talk about is counter cultural. The world we live in here in North America would rather we did not embrace these teachings and live by them.
I was told recently to get with the program “the world is changing”. This is true….. and precisely why I say these things. But because the world is changing.. does not mean its changing for the sake and benefit of our souls.
Archbishop Mancini suggest in his recent pastoral letter entitled “Lord, where are you going” suggest that we focus on three things in this new age of secularism.. they are mission, community, and formation.
If I do my job right we will be doing a couple of these points right here and now. And after your Sunday devotions and socializing you may even go out and do “mission”
So being the just the beginning of the second week of Lent…. this is indeed a season of repentance and penitence, but today the Church is already talking to us about the Resurrection.
- In the transfiguration of Jesus in today's Gospel, Peter, James, and John get a glimpse of Christ's eternal glory, even though they were some what puzzled. My friend Dan Menier while giving theological lectures always said the apostles were slow to catch on to things.
- St Paul, in today's Second Reading, writes passionately about
- God's power and faithfulness as revealed in Christ.
And he actually changes his emphasis mid-sentence , he says “It is Jesus who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us”
- And in the first reading about Abraham and Isaac, which narrates events that took place almost 2000 years before Christ…. the release of Isaac from his bonds gives him new life - this too is a symbol of Christ's resurrection.
- Even today's Psalm, when it speaks about walking with the Lord in the Land of the living and God "loosening the bonds" of his servant, is pointing our attention towards Christ's glorious resurrection.
And yet, Easter is still more than a month away, fortunately unlike the Apostles we do have the full story.
- Knowing the whole story we can understand that Lent is indeed meant to be a time of repentance and penitence, a time of sacrifice and reflection in which we acknowledge the weight of suffering in the world and in our lives, suffering that always has its roots in sin.
- This suffering is always part of the story of every human life, with or without Christ; but with Christ, it is not the end of the story.
- our crosses purify us of selfishness, if we allow them to, teaching us to lean more on Christ and to have a greater experience of his wisdom and joy in other words his resurrection.
In our Catholic faith, the cross and resurrection are two sides of the same coin; we must never allow ourselves to think of one without thinking of the other.
This balance between the cross and the resurrection, sorrow and joy, helps make sense out of a lot of confusing aspects of the spiritual life.
Since both are necessary for our growth in holiness, just as sunlight and darkness are both necessary for the growth of plants, God allows us to experience both, in accordance with the timing that he deems best.
- In the resurrection moments, God grants us exceptional clarity and satisfaction in our Christian journey.
- But, like spoiled children, we tend to hold on to those good feelings as if they were God himself.
We echo Peter's comment in today's Gospel: "Lord it is good for us to be here! Let's just put up some tents and never leave!"
- But earth is not heaven, and God loves us too much to let us settle for anything less than the fullness of his friendship.
- And so, he leads us down from our high mountains and walks with us to Calvary, letting us share the weight of his cross.
- On mountaintops he strengthens our hope, but with crosses he strengthens our love, as we learn to cling to him more than to his gifts.
And that's what Christian wisdom is all about.
So what can we do to speed up our Christian wisdom learning curve?
- The easiest way is to work together. ( which is community or it might be mission the 2nd and 3rd of the three points I mentioned at the first of the homily)
- If we decide never to let those around us carry their crosses alone, then we can be sure someone will do the same for us.
- By carrying each other's crosses, we combine the joy of Christian charity with the pain of our earthly exile - keeping perfectly in mind both the cross and the resurrection.
- All of these things hopefully have been part of your “formation” which was the first point in the archbishops letter to us.
SoAs Jesus comes to us in this Mass to help us carry our crosses, let's promise him that we will do the same for those around us.