One week down, five more to go on our 40-day Lenten journey.
This week’s readings focus on trust. Trust in the divine revelation of God’s covenant promise to His people and our response to it. Usually, our response is doubt and anxiety instead of belief and peace.
Life is a long journey. Sometimes we get lost along the way. Sometimes we experience doubts and anxiety about God’s promise about our destination. Many of us carry baggage of our sinfulness on this journey of life, making us weary.
Our creator and our Church want us to spend this Lent reflecting on this sinful baggage and take steps to leave it behind as we change our ways.
In the first reading, we hear the strange story Abraham and his son Isaac. God told Abram his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. And now He is asking him to sacrifice his only son.
The Collegeville Bible Commentary sums up this passage with this insight:
“We know, as readers, that what is recounted is a test for Abraham; thus we focus on Abraham’s response and not on the horror of God’s command. We are left to imagine Abraham’s inner thoughts while the narrator tells us only what he does. We follow Abraham each step of the way as he complies with the divine command. We feel the silence as father and son walk together, coming closer with each step, to that moment of ultimate decision. We smile at Isaac’s innocent question and sympathize with Abraham in his tender but evasive answer. We watch as each detail of that final moment unfolds, from the building of the altar to Abraham’s poised knife, ready to claim his son’s life. We wait expectantly until the angel intervenes, and finally we rejoice at the turn of events. Abraham has withstood the test, and Isaac still lives.”
God calls us all to be in relationship with him.
His exercise with Abraham was a test of his trust in the Lord.
Trust in God is the focus of the second reading, too. We hear St. Paul words to the Romans, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“The almighty power of God, who loves (human)kind to the point of handing over his Only-begotten Son to be put to death, will ensure that we emerge victorious from any kind of threat or suffering.”
In essence, St. Paul is telling the Romans not to be so worried about earthly matters.
At the time, Romans were worried about real life and death issues: persecutions, betrayals, executions.
Do we sometimes get caught up in worrying about less important earthly matters? Like, How much money is in my bank account or IRA and will it be enough for retirement? Can I buy that new car? Will I get that promotion at work?
Mark’s Gospel of the Transfiguration is God showing the disciples something important.
“The scene, recreated with a lot of symbolism, is magnificent. Jesus appears before them clothed in the glory of God himself. At the same time, Moses and Elijah, who according to tradition have been snatched from death and live close to God, appear in conversation with him. Everything prompts us to discern the divinity of Jesus, crucified by his enemies but raised from the dead by God.”
Jesus hints at his future death and resurrection as he walks away with the disciples, but they will miss the meaning. Hopefully, we will not.
Death is such a hard topic. But we all will experience it sooner or later.
Life is a difficult journey, one fraught with pain and suffering as we carry the crosses of our own sinfulness toward our promised land.
God wants us to let it go and return to Him with all our hearts and souls, and to love each other as we love ourselves.
I am reminded of another journey many Christians take that lasts about 40-days. The El Camino journey to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. You may know someone who has walked the Way of St. James.
How many of you have seen the movie: “The Way?”
If you have not, and even if you have, it is a great movie to watch during Lent. The movie is really a metaphor for life.
It reminds us we are all on a journey. We all encounter people we do not like along the way. We all must learn to get along despite our differences. We each carry our own crosses, our own sinfulness. We all must learn to share the journey together.
God is reminding us of His covenant promise to us in all of today’s readings. God is reminding us not to be filled with anxiety and despair, but peace and hope.
God is telling us all to listen to His “chosen Son.” Are we listening?
One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when the four arrive at the highest point on the Camino de Santiago, what is called “Cruz de Hierro” or the Iron Cross.
Travel guides say, “Since the 11th century… the cross has been a key feature on the Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims traditionally carry a rock with them from the start of their journey, before leaving the rock at the foot of the cross. The rock symbolizes the sins that the pilgrim has committed in life, and the act of leaving the rock is supposed to absolve them of the sins.”
Many will utter a prayer as they lay the rock on the stack of millions of rocks leading up to the cross of Jesus.
In the movie, one of the characters reads the following prayer:
“Dear Lord: May this stone, a symbol of my efforts on the pilgrimage, that I lay at the feet of the cross of the savior, weigh the balance in favor of my good deeds that day when the deeds of all my life are judged, let it be so. Amen.”
What rock of our sinfulness do we need to lay down at the cross of our Savior?
Our pride? Our judgment? Our anger? Our resentment? Our lust? Our greed?
What sin are we working on freeing ourselves from on this 40-day Lenten journey?
My sisters and brothers lay it down and be free. No need to carry around excess baggage on this journey we call life.
Consider spending some time in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Work on your relationship with our Lord and savior. Ask Jesus to help you carry your cross.
Pray daily, fast from bad habits, and do not forget to give alms to those less fortunate that you.
This is how we walk these 40-days of Lent.
I wish you a Buen Camino, a good journey.
1 Bergant, D., & Karris, R. J. (1989). The Collegeville Bible commentary: based on the New American Bible with revised New Testament (p. 60). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
 Pagola, J. A. (2011). Following in the Footsteps of Jesus: Meditations on the Gospels for Year B. (R. Luciani, Ed., V. de Souza, Trans.) (p. 49). Miami, FL: Convivium Press.