Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Lent (Cycle A)
The call to be holy and to be perfect, for most of us, may both be an irrationally demanding duty and an uncomfortably impractical way of life. Its difficulties seem to lie in the fact that if and when we do decide to respond to such a supernatural call, there will be inconvenient “buts” and “what ifs,” thereby giving us instead more than enough reasons to desire living an otherwise “normal” life.
“I know gossip hurts, but … What if I simply backstab about my neighbor’s adulterous life, wouldn’t that be better in order for them to straighten their crooked ways?
“I know my child wants to talk to me about something, but … What if I just holler at my kid, grouchily telling her about how tired I am, wouldn’t that make her more considerate and put her in her proper place?”
“I know prayer will relieve me, but … What if I just simply watch my favorite videos or update my social media accounts instead of praying, wouldn’t that give me more instant stress-relief?”
“I know divorce will harm the family, but …”
“I know the minimum wage must be at a level sufficient for economic survival, but …”
“I know drug addicts are also human beings, but …”
“I know the environment is priceless, but …”
“What if I merely minded my own business, instead of participating in Church activities which at times are full of politics anyway?”
“What if I focused more of my energies on making more money, finding a more comfortable life for my family, and becoming more prominent in my profession, than using all of my talents and a lot of my time with and for fellow Church parishioners, who at times are unappreciative of what I contribute anyway?”
“What if I just do my part for the world, and let others do their own? Wouldn’t we have much less stressful lives?”
God urged Abraham to the same ‘demanding duty’ and ‘impractical way of life’. “Leave your country, your family and your father’s house”. But we must always remember that in every call, there will always be a promise of a gift from the Spirit, that when do persevere in it, Grace will radiate to us and through us: “I will bless you and make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
On the other hand, just as he responded to his own, the Apostle exhorts us to respond to this same call, because there will always be a need to share the gift which we though undeserving, have already received: “Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in laboring for the gospel, with the strength of God. He saved us and called us – a calling which … did not depend on our merits, but on his generosity and his own initiative.”
So hopefully, we do respond and are made much stronger in faith, as we witness the glory that awaits us in the transfigured Christ whose “face shone like the sun”: “This calling … has just been manifested with the glorious appearance of Christ Jesus, our Lord, who destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to light, in his gospel.” It is undeniably clear from the message of this vision that we will know how to respond appropriately to the call, by following the illumined way of the living Word: “This is my Son, the Beloved, my Chosen One. Listen to him.”
He, to whom we must listen, ultimately admonishes, “Stand up, do not be afraid!” On a more reassuring note, our Holy Father Francis in Gaudete et exsultate explains, “Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self. (GE, 32)
Let us therefore pray: Father, I am afraid. I am in fear of losing what I have tried so hard to earn, of missing what I think I richly deserve, of not gaining back what I believe might be stolen from me.
I am afraid of the unknown. Is this the life you really intended for us to live: disturbed by temptation; struggling against sin, and at times succumbing to it; anxious at so much uncertainty; conscious of tremendous weakness, lack of fortitude, depravity of faith and a timid will; and most of all, confronted with a social existence unwilling to change itself! Isn’t holiness useless? Why can I not simply enjoy life instead, and maybe I will die happier?
May your Spirit fill me with your love. Help me to realize that indeed life is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, but that it is also every person’s duty to contribute to making it worth living, by giving a little of themselves for this aspiration. May I fully understand through the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, the inevitability of my sacrifice for a greater purpose, and may you embrace me and whisper to me “not to worry”, so that I may be strengthened to carry on until the time I will be with you again in paradise! Amen.
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.