THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT –A– March 16, 2014

 A reading from the Book of Genesis 12:1-4a

A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy 1:8b-10

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 17:1-9

Dear Reader,

Human kind are known for avoiding what’s good for them.  You know what I mean.  Proper diet.  Exercise.  Adequate sleep.  Then we experience a health crisis and all those recommendations suddenly make sense.  Catholic Christians might have a similar attitude toward Lent.  A sense of dread prevails as Ash Wednesday approaches.   Then forty days of endurance follow until Lent ends with Easter and life returns to normal – somewhat like the thaw that comes after a long and severe winter.

Dare I say that we need Lent, just like we need a proper diet and exercise for health’s sake?  If we enter into the spirit of the season and do what the Church prescribes, we will emerge renewed and prepared to celebrate the Triduum, the feast of three days that re-presents the Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection.  And we renew our own dying and rising, our Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.  Remember that Lent is put before us as a joyful season of grace.  These weeks shouldn’t be a dour time even though it is recommended that we spend the forty days fasting, praying and giving alms.  If we enter into those three activities we will be able to focus on the kind of lives we should be living as those who are disciples of Christ, those who walk with Christ and seek to do what he does.

Two groups of people are the objects of the Church’s special attention during this season.  Both groups are on a journey.  To live a life of faith is to commit one’s self to being on the way, to journey with Christ to the kingdom.

Where do you find yourself this Second Sunday of Lent?  Are you one of the group we call the Baptized, those who came at Lent’s beginning to do penance, that is, to turn away from sin and so let the Spirit open you more completely to the union God has in mind for you?  St. Paul challenges the Church to remember that God saved us and called us to a holy life.  God wants you to remember the promise in the first reading: I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you…. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.  Notice who the actor is.  God.  It is God who is always seeking, always pleading with us to let God be our God and so come to know God’s love.  In this season of Lent rejoice in remembering the God who seeks and saves.  You, the Baptized, are always a work in progress.

Perhaps you are in the other group, those objects of the Church’s special attention and care during Lent – the Elect.  You are preparing for Baptism.  You are the ones to whom the readings for the next three Sundays will speak in a special way.  You are on a journey that began when faith first stirred in your hearts, that moment when you first wondered if God was peaking in through the lattice behind which you hid and was whispering words of love to you.  Those words are in the Song of Songs.  Arise my love, my dove, my beautiful one and come!  Your journey began when you wondered if that God-inspired relationship would be lived out in the midst of this people with whom you have been assembling for worship in the Liturgy of the Word.  You took the first steps as you inquired about the ways of faith in the Catholic community and you heard the Church say: Come and see.

The Church asked you to journey with the Baptized and experience worship with them, to experience the full cycle of the Church’s year through the Liturgy of the Word.  These weeks the Assembly has sent you forth to continue breaking open the Word and in the process to experience an increasing longing for the Eucharist, even as you long for the Waters where you will meet Christ, there to die and rise with him.  This Lent is a forty-day retreat preparing you to celebrate the Great Vigil of the Lord’s Rising, a night you will never forget.  The heavens will open over you.  You will be called by name.  As the first light of dawn breaks God will clam you in Christ as beloved.

Baptized and Elect alike, let yourself be drawn into the heart of the Good News this Second Sunday of Lent.  Jesus invites us to the Mountain to see him as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets symbolized in the persons of Moses and Elijah.  Jesus invites us to look on and see the reality of who he is in his total Yes to God’s will as the glory bursts forth in radiant raiment and brilliant face.  How better would you describe such glory?  Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to be present for such a revealing moment and to experience the burning desire to do anything to make that moment last?  Ecstatic moments are like that.  Peter, James and John wanted to live in that moment for the rest of their lives.  Then the cloud overshadowed them just as the Cloud had settled over the Arc of the Covenant during the desert wanderings.  In both instances, the Cloud announced God’s presence.

Then, as Peter, James, and John stood in stunned silence they heard the Voice declare: This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.  The disciples’ amazement turns to terror.  How close dare they draw to God?  No one can look on the face of God and live.  They did not yet know the intimacy that God had in mind for the initiated in Christ.

Why do you suppose that Jesus charges us, Elect and Baptized, to not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead?  Because, we care called to be a new creation, a people of the Resurrection.  Each time the Baptized approach the Font on the way to the Eucharistic Table, we ought to pause and remember what happened to us there when God called us Beloved.  That is why the Font ought to be situated in the path to the Altar.  The only way to the Table is to pass through the Font.

You, Elect, during these weeks of your great Lent, pause at the Font and ponder the Living Waters.  Stand at the front side and gaze across to the Table and consider the totality of the change that will happen during the Vigil when you will enter the Font to die with Christ and rise out of the font to live in Christ.  For you, the old order passes away as the waters rush over you.  The new order symbolized by the White Robe the newly baptized will wear through the Easter Season, begins on the other side.

Stand in the reality.  We, the Baptized, are the Body of Christ.  Stand when you pray in witness to the reality.  We have listened to Jesus and must live what we have heard even as we are challenged to live what we eat in the Eucharistic meal.  We are being drawn into the Resurrection.  Strengthened by that meal we will be sent to be Bread broken and Cup poured out in imitation of the One whose life we share.  The journey continues.  We walk with Christ on the Way.  New Catechumens and Elect will come after us.  Remember the promise in the first reading today: All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.

Lots to think about.  Lots to remember.  Lots to look forward to.  Lent is a time to be reminded and a time for looking forward with longing to what begins soon and very soon.

Now do you become more convinced that Lent is a joyful season of Grace?  The clouds of gloom are parting soon to be banished forever.

Sincerely,

Didymus

 

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