We have arrived at the second Sunday in
Lent. I sometimes wonder why the designers of the Lectionary chose
the readings they did. That’s not a complaint. Not, "Why on earth
did they pick that reading!" Rather, what did the liturgists
and scripture scholars have in mind by picking these readings for
today? Their very choice puts a certain "spin" on how we might
interpret the readings for our lives. If today’s Scriptures were for
the first Sunday in Advent, or for the feast of Christ the King,
would we interpret them differently? Well, this preacher would.
Let’s see then, what the Genesis
reading, written long before the creation of Lent, might say to us
today. First, we’ll look at the reading and then the light it shines
for us on our Lenten season
The story of Abram and Sarai (their
names will be changed to Abraham and Sarah) is a favorite for a lot
of us. It’s a story of faith: two people responding to God’s
command, "Go forth…." They knew where they were, but they didn’t
know where they were going to wind up. They heard God speak to them
and so they packed up, broke with their past and took off. (Gustavo
Gutierrez, OP, described Abram’s vocation as "marked by rupture."
Doesn’t that describe what a call or vocation feels like?) They were
advanced in age, but left the security of what they knew and the
surroundings of family and community to go to a promised land. They
didn’t know where it was, how to get there or when they would
arrive. Still, trusting in God’s word they acted. They put their own
plans aside and followed God’s directions, one step at a time.
God’s initiative started the journey,
would guide it day by day and would see it through to completion.
While Abraham and Sarah are very important biblical figures, God is
the focus of their story. We are not told that Abraham and Sarah
were particularly holy people. There is no preliminary, edifying
tale about how special they were. Instead, the spotlight falls on
God. It’s the question we can always ask throughout the Scriptures,
"Who’s in charge here?" And the response is always the same, "God
is!" God initiates a call and follows through by accompanying us and
enabling us to respond all the way to fulfillment (See "Quotable"
Placing this Genesis story in its
liturgical setting today affects how we hear it in the midst of our
Lenten journey. Like Abraham, God finds us where we are at this
moment and in current circumstances of our lives. The opening
chapters in Genesis remind us that God created us in God’s image and
likeness. While sin has besmirched that image in us, God is ready to
renew it. We are invited to let go of our past attachments and trust
in the free gifts of God’s mercy and blessings. We didn’t have to
earn these gifts or beg for them. Again, this Lent, they are are
readily available for us.
God has great plans, not just for the
couple. All of us will also receive the blessing that started with
God’s choice of Abraham and Sarah. The story of Genesis began with a
blessing for the first humans. They chose their own path and were
expelled from the Garden. Lent reminds us of the "side trips" we
have made on our own journeys in life. But Lent also reminds us that
God has not given up on us and is prepared to heal what has been
broken by sin. Abraham and Sarah are examples that God is prepared
to bless us side-trippers again.
We may not feel we deserve God’s
graciousness. But merit is not what the story of Abraham and Sarah
is about. With them the gifts of a new beginning and a new future
are offered us today. Shall we leave behind what has weighed us
down, pick ourselves up and set out again on a journey with God as
our traveling companion? Trusting in the God of Abraham and Sarah,
along with our worshiping community, we can pray with confidence the
response to our first reading, "Lord, let your mercy be upon us as
we place our trust in you."
St. Paul reaffirms a similar message to
the one we heard from Genesis. God has taken the initiative and
calls us, "not according to our works, but according to God’s own
design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus…"
Matthew’s Transfiguration account comes
immediately after Jesus’ first prediction of his passion, death and
resurrection (16:21) and before the second prediction (17:22-23).
Jesus knows what awaits him in Jerusalem and he wants to instruct
his disciples that they too must take up their cross in order to
follow him. Like Abraham they will have to let go of their current
way of living and begin a journey directed by Jesus to a new living
place. After Jesus’ transfiguring event Peter wants to build a
dwelling place and stay put. But that wasn’t what God had in mind
for Abraham and Sarah, nor for Peter, or for any of Jesus’
disciples. God speaks to us this Lent inviting us once again to
travel – to pick up our cross and follow Jesus’ lead. We are
reminded that responding to Jesus’ invitation will cost us as we
journey through the pains resulting from discipleship. We are also
assured that God will never abandon us until our journey is
Led by Jesus the disciples climbed the
mountain. They left behind the stuff of their daily lives in the
world – at least for a while: jealousies, aggression, pettiness,
quarrels and misplaced priorities. Jesus led them away from the old
into a new order where he was their light – "his face shone like the
sun." There on the high mountain two other mountain men appear:
Moses, who received the 10 Commandments from God on the mountain and
led his people from slavery to freedom and Elijah, who also met God
on the mountain and led his people from pagan worship to the true
Lent is our journey to another
mountain. We try to leave behind the old stuff of our lives and
follow the direction of the voice, "This is my beloved Son, with
whom I am well pleased, listen to him." In Lent we resolve again to
be better listeners to Jesus and put behind us whatever "noise"
deafens us to his word. Distracted by other voices we have not
always chosen wisely. But here in Lent, on the mountain with Jesus,
we resolve to be more attention to his voice, which invites us,
"Rise, and do not be afraid."
Last week we were in the desert with
Jesus. There we remembered the temptations we yielded to in our
lives. We also acknowledged the evil that exists in the world and
its powers. This week we have ascended a high mountain with him. On
the mountain we have hope, for we can see by the transfigured light
of Christ what is possible for us. We hear the voice of God
encourage us to listen to Christ, who is our good news of
forgiveness in Lent.
Click here for a link to this Sunday’s
important always to know that the first word, the true
initiative, the true activity comes from God and only by
inserting ourselves into the divine initiative, only
begging for this divine initiative, shall we too be able
to become – with him – evangelizers."
– Pope Benedict XVI, quoted by
Pope Francis, in "The Joy of the Gospel," ("Evangelii
JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD
He saved us and called us to a holy life
2 Timothy 1:9
Here, near the beginning of Lent, we
are reminded as Christians, to turn or return completely to
Christian commitment. It is so easy to get caught up in the humdrum
of our lives, to fill our space with noise, to drown out the still
small voice of God calling us to greater life. Our lives should be a
consistent exercise in letting go of things that keep us from being
transfigured. Yet, we linger in what we think are safe and secure
ruts. The gift of Lent can be for us an intense period of
purification and enlightenment, a time of transformation, a time of
deepening our life with Christ. How do we do this?
Pope Francis, in an interview with
La Repubblica(10/1/2013) states, "We have to be a leavening
of life and love and the leavening is infinitely smaller than the
mass of fruits, flowers and trees that are born out of it. I believe
I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to
listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must
restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future,
spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded
and preach peace. Vatican II, inspired by Pope Paul VI and John,
decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to be open to
modern culture [through] ecumenism and dialogue."
During the papal conclave of his
election to pope, then Cardinal Bergoglio gave a three-minute speech
"in which he said the Church, in order to survive, must stop ‘living
within herself, of herself, for herself’" (Rolling Stone,
Binelli 2/13/14). Well, here’s a news flash—we are the Church! Each
one of us must stop living within ourselves, of ourselves, for
We have many social justice ministries
here at Sacred Heart who have devoted leaders and they need YOU to
stand up and be counted to help. We have homeless in our larger
community that need YOU to accompany them to a better life through
Support Circles. YOU can be the change. Go to our website (
www.sacredheartcathedral.org ), pick a cause, and let me know how
you will use your God-given gifts.
If we implemented even a small portion
of what Pope Francis says, we will see ourselves changing, like a
butterfly shaking free from its cocoon. . . and we will change the
world as well.
----Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS
Coordinator of Social Justice Ministries
Sacred Heart Cathedral--Raleigh, N.C.
Mini-reflections on the Sunday
scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is
also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people
From today’s Genesis reading:
The Lord said to Abram:
"Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father’s house to a land
that I will show you.
Like Abram, God finds us where we are
at this moment and in the current circumstances of our lives. We are
invited to let go of our past attachments and trust in the free
gifts of God’s mercy and blessings. We didn’t have to earn these
gifts or beg for them. Lent reminds us that they are readily
available for us.
So we ask ourselves:
- What holds me back from more fully
responding to God’s call for me?
- What can I do this Lent to begin
to respond to that call?
POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES
"The use of the death
penalty cannot really be mended. It should be ended."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick
Inmates on death row are the most
forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this
space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a
postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not
forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through
North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If
the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
- Alden Harden #0166056 (On death
row since 8/12/94)
- William Gregory #0156529 (8/15/94)
- Phillip Wilkinson #0438643
----Central Prison 4285 Mail Service
Center, Raleigh 27699-4285
For more information on the Catholic
position on the death penalty go to the webpage of the Catholic
"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those
wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the
Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly
to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email
If you would like to support this
ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude
St. Albert Priory 3150 Vince Hagan
Drive Irving, Texas 75062-4736
Make checks payable to: Dominican
Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:
1. We have compiled Four CDS for
Individual CDs for each
Liturgical Year, A, B or C
One combined CD for
"Liturgical Years A, B and C."
If you are a preacher, lead a
Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical
team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process.
Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they
prepare for Sunday liturgy.
You can order the CDs by going to our
clicking on the "First Impressions"
CD link on the left.
(These CDs have been updated at least
twice in the last five years.)
2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These
Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written
by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to
receive these reflections drop a note to
fr. John Boll, OP.
3. Our webpage:
Where you will find "Preachers’
Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías
Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and
other material pertinent to preaching.
4. "First Impressions" is a
service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday
worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like
"First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to
fr. John Boll, OP.
Thank you and blessings on your
fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert Priory
3150 Vince Hagan Drive
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
Click on a link button
below to view the reflection indicated.
(The newest items are
always listed first.)