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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Before the sublime, the mundane-

Before I go into today’s Scripture, another reminder of the Annual Appeal. As of today (2/28), 184 donors have pledged $122,090 to the Annual Appeal. By comparison, at this time last year 205 donors had pledged $111,820. So, we are slightly ahead of last year’s response, but we have a long way to go. Our first objective now is to reach our stretch goal of $137,423 in pledges and then in cash so we can take advantage of the rebate offered by the Archdiocese. If you haven’s pledged yet, I invite you to take the time this week to do so. A video of my talk at the Masses on Pledge Sunday is still viewable on the Homepage of our website. Please go to that for an explanation of the needs. You will be receiving another letter from me in the near future so, please join so many others in support of this work of the Church. In addition, you will be helping the parish to continue to sustain the present level of service and ministries, even with the decline in ordinary support, the result of the continued effect of the pandemic. Please make a pledge today and the easiest way is to go to the link on the homepage of our website.

Now for the sublime-

We continue on our Lenten journey. Today, our 1st Reading presents us with the beginning of the relationship God enters with Abram, whose name God will later change to Abraham. God invites Abram to move, to leave his land to find a new home. It will be the beginning of many invitations to Abraham to follow Him and each time, Abraham listens. In a special way, it marks the beginning of God’s self-revelation that will continue and find its completion in the revelation of Jesus Christ—Son of God. For his obedience, God has designated Abraham, and his descendants, as those people through whom He will bless the entire world. We know those people to be the Jewish people. Abraham is “their father in faith,” but he is ours as well, for from him has come Jesus, through whom God’s blessings and grace will flow in abundance. And those people who believe in Him are now the new Chosen people, the new People of God—us.

Every 1st Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading always relates the Temptation in the Desert. Whether from Matthew, Mark or Luke, the Gospels on that 1st Sunday call us to enter into the Lenten season facing the devil and all the temptations he throws at us, so that we may use this time as our own desert fast (like Jesus) to reject him and all his works (the baptismal promise we will renew on Easter Sunday) and live more faithfully this Christian calling of ours.

In a similar fashion, the 2nd Sunday of Lent always presents to us the account of the Transfiguration, Jesus’ appearing in glory, accompanied by Moses and Elijah, before the three chosen disciples, Peter, James and John. (After today, the readings for the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent will diverge from one common theme). While some scholars maintain that the account of the Transfiguration is actually a post-resurrection appearance, the author of 2nd Peter clearly presents it as happening during Jesus’ lifetime. It comes at a moment when Jesus had first told His disciples that He would suffer and be put to death and after Jesus’ rebuke of Peter for wanting it to be otherwise, it comes as an invitation to believe in Him even though the expectations which the disciples had of Him would not be fulfilled as they had hoped. It comes as an invitation directly from the Father—or maybe a warning—LISTEN TO HIM. At His baptism Jesus alone heard the voice; at the Transfiguration, the disciples hear the words spoken to them; not only is the Father well pleased in Jesus; they need to listen to what he is telling them.

Several elements in the account give us some clues as to why it always appears as the focus of reflection for this 2nd Sunday of Lent. As stated, it follows the first prediction of the Passion, after which Peter “rebuked” Him, and for which Peter received his own rebuke. The transfiguration of Jesus, itself, is both the ”breaking through” of Whom Jesus really is, the Son of God, (not the messiah as understood by Peter), and the foreshadowing of Who Jesus will be at His Resurrection. In light of this transfiguration, Jesus is overshadowed by a cloud, the classic Old Testament sign of the Presence of God, and out of the cloud comes the Voice, “listen to Him,” something Peter was unwilling to do only a few days earlier.

There is considerable significance in the placement of this Gospel on the 2nd Sunday of Lent. We could ask ourselves, after only one week, how are things going? Have we faced the “adversary,” as Jesus did last week? Did we win or lose? Have we faced our sins, head-on and said no, or have we fallen already? (And this is not about our Lenten resolutions—they are only tools for the real contest—facing our sins). Whatever the state of our Lenten resolve, or of our Lenten struggle, this Gospel is offered to us as an encouragement, and a warning. It is an encouragement because it reminds us of the ultimate goal of our journey through Lent, and our journey through life—it is to reach the Kingdom, to be found in the company of Jesus, as this earthly journey ends so that He may lead us into Paradise. We can never forget that as much as we are challenged to build the Kingdom here on earth, it is that Eternal Kingdom on which we must keep our focus, and keeping our focus on it should be the spur that harnesses our spiritual energy to be more faithful on the journey.

And the warning. The Voice makes it clear. The Father is pleased in the Son, in His willingness to walk the way of the Passion and in His willingness to offer Himself for us, and the Father’s willingness to accept that offering. And so the Father says, “Listen to Him.” To listen to Him is to take up the struggle against Evil, both in our personal lives and the life of the world. No true believer can fail before this challenge. The stakes are too high. Lent is the time to “Listen to Him.” Better start now.

But how can we listen to Him more deeply than we may now be doing? Like Peter, James and John, it’s in experiencing the person of Jesus in His glory. Where is that experience for you? It is certainly in prayer, the time we spend alone with God. It is certainly in our service to one another, in seeing Christ in others. But most especially, for us as Catholics, it is in the encounter with the Risen and glorified Christ in the Eucharist. We encounter the person of Christ in the most powerful way in the Eucharist and in Holy Communion. To meet the Christ of the Transfiguration is to receive the Eucharistic Christ and to receive the Eucharistic Christ is to be strengthened in faith for the struggle that is the wilderness of our lives. Nothing can substitute for this living sacrament and the life that comes from it and through it.
Don’t miss it.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron



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