By Deacon Jeff Schuetzle
For The Catholic Messenger
Our Gospel for this second Sunday of Lent relates to us a story about taking risks and about a call to an abiding faith. There comes a time when Jesus begins telling his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem where he will suffer greatly, be killed and on the third day be raised. Jesus tells his disciples that whoever wishes to come after him must deny oneself, take up one’s cross and follow him.
Eight days later Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a high mountain where something extraordinary happens. As the disciples look at Jesus, his face changes in appearance and his clothing becomes dazzling white. And then, all of sudden, Moses and Elijah appear in glory and begin talking with Jesus. The disciples are eager to stay as Peter says, “Lord, it is good that we are here.” And if that were not enough, as Peter talks to the Lord, a bright cloud (a symbol of divine presence) overshadows them. From the midst of this cloud the divine voice of God says, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” Now, the once “eager to stay” disciples become afraid. Why are they afraid? Because listening to Jesus means not staying put. Listening to Jesus and trusting in him means picking up their crosses and following him to Jerusalem. The disciples are asked to risk it all by moving forward on their journey to glory.
But as they begin their journey by coming down from the mountain top, the disciples are silent and do not at that time tell anyone what they have seen. Jesus knows that the disciples do not fully understand the risk they are taking. Only after Jesus’ resurrection would they understand well enough to break their silence and totally risk it all by carrying on the Lord’s saving mission.
During this season of Lent we, too, need to take time to listen. Listen for the voice of the Lord. It is only when we listen closely to every word that comes from our God that we can be faithful disciples willing to risk it all by carrying on the Lord’s saving mission.
Pope Francis in the “Joy of the Gospel” quotes Pope Benedict XVI: “It is 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 become — with him and in him — evangelizers.”
Lent is our opportunity to renew our commitment to the divine initiative. A time to beg for a faith-filled way of life of believing by giving our hearts to Jesus and carrying the cross of justice and compassion, mercy and goodness, truth and fullness of life for everyone no matter who they are or what their status in life may be.
A portion of my Lenten reflection time is being spent begging God for the 20/20 vision to see him in all of his creations and the courage to reach out and serve him by caring for the needs of others. As a way of examining my commitment to the divine initiative, I use a poem to ask myself if I am a true believer, one who has truly given my heart to Jesus. I share it with the hope that it might help you. The author is unknown:
I was hungry and you formed a humanities club to discuss my hunger.
I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
What good did that do?
I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
But I needed you.
I was homeless and you preached to me about the shelter of the love of God.
I wish you’d taken me home.
I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me.
Why didn’t you stay?
Christian believer, you seem so holy; so close to God. But I’m still very hungry, and lonely, and cold and still in pain…
Does it matter?