Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lenten Reflection: Second Sunday of Lent

Cycle B
(Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10)

One of the former presidents of CBS News—the parent company of WCCO—once made the astute observation: There are only two kinds of people in the world. Those who are there when I need them, and those who are not!

If we were to look at that quote in light of the first reading today, we’d have to conclude that Abraham was the first kind of person. When God called him, he answered. “Here I am.” When God asked him to leave his homeland and his kin at an old age and go into a unknown place... he answered, “Here I am.” And he went. And when God asked him to sacrifice the person he loved most in this world—his beloved son—Abraham was even willing to do that. His life is an astonishing chronicle of great faith and obedience. No matter what, he seemed to be ready for whatever God might ask of him. As we hear this reading and consider the person of Abraham, we need to ask ourselves if we have even a fraction of his trust and faith in God and whether we would be able to answer God with such obedience and spontaneity. How many of us are able to say to God, no matter what he asks, “Here I am.” These days I think that kind of devotion is rare, if it exists at all.

Lent is a beautiful time to reflect on that...what God may be asking of us and how willing we are to respond. We can all take time during this season and offer neighbor who is I the soup kitchen when volunteers are needy to feed the hungry I the spouse or child or friend you’ve taken for I a God whom you’ve neglected, a faith you’ve overlooked, or a prayer life that has become I am.

Lent offers us a chance to remember what matters, to strip away what’s unimportant, and to once again make ourselves present, especially to God, trusting that he will use us as he wants. That kind of faith made Abraham the father of a great nation. It led Jesus to a mountaintop, where—as the gospel tells us today—he was transfigured. That mysterious moment was Christ’s own statement to the world of who he was; another way of saying , “Here I am.” He will say it to us again when the host is elevated. We will look at it in adoration and, without speaking a word, Christ will say, “Here I am.” Here I am...offered, sacrificed, and broken...and as he gives himself to us, he challenges us to do the same. It’s an invitation to change our hearts and, in a sense, be transfigured.

On Ash Wednesday, St. Paul told us that now is the “acceptable time” to make that happen. So how will be respond to the invitation and challenge of Christ? Remember, there are only two kinds of people in the world. Those who are there when they are needed, and those who aren’t! Which will we be?

— Fr. Anthony M. Criscitelli, T.O.R.