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Contents: Volume 2 - The Second Sunday of Lent

03-17-2019


 

The 2nd

SUNDAY

of LENT

2019

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

 

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1.

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Lent 2 C

Once again, we hear/read about the goodness and faithfulness of God. God initiates the first covenant with Abram and the new covenant through Jesus. God remains faithful to the covenants even if we, God's people, do not. Our job then is to follow Jesus, a simple but not easy journey.

In our Gospel reading according to Luke, we hear God telling the apostles what to do to follow the path. The apostles only "get" part of the message though. Asleep at first, they only wake up to see Jesus's glory and hear the voice of God. They "miss" the discussion about how Jesus would lead them (the new exodus) and us to glory but only through his suffering before the resurrection.

How much like them we still are! Peter wants to memorialize the event, holding on to the glory he witnessed. We want to participate only in the "good" part of our story, minimizing any suffering that occurs on the way.

Lent is the time to look at the complete job description of a Christian, a follower of Jesus, both the suffering and the promised glory. What part of the suffering/the cross we are asked to bear, do we tend to avoid? What can we do to shore ourselves up through grace this Lent so that we do not fear the struggle?

None of us likes the struggle but we do want the reward. Trying to understand that Jesus is in the driver's seat so to speak might enable us to let Jesus lead the way and for us not to be back seat or front seat drivers so often! It is a simple task to trust Jesus, but it is not an easy one.

Lord, help us to spend time with you in prayer this Lent so that we will trust your ways rather than our ways. We need to go in a better direction. We need to follow you more closely.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Second Sunday of Lent March 17 2019

Genesis 15:5-12 && 17-18; Responsorial Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 17:5; Luke 9:23-35

Last week’s readings spoke to us about the humanity of Jesus. The "forty days" in the desert means those temptations occurred throughout Jesus’ ministry. We can’t forget that after an amazing miracle, the crowds wanted to make Jesus King, in the hopes of re-establishing the idealized kingdom of the royal house of David. At Mass last Sunday, our newly ordained Fr. John connected the temptations in the desert with Jesus’ temptations on the cross. Never in my 78 years had such a connection occurred to me. It came to me as an eye-opening insight that tied the temptations of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry with what must have been temptations of Jesus dying on the cross: he was fully endowed with the power to amaze the crowds and prove his validity by coming down from the cross: he was fully connected with divine power that could bring legions of angels to destroy the Roman occupation because his kingdom was not of this world: he was fully able to satisfy his hunger and thirst as he endured the terrible pain of the cross by creating nourishing and healing food and drink. The Revelation of God’s Will and Character came to us through Jesus. The union of divine and human natures in the one person Jesus was rejected by civil and religious leadership. In the face of that rejection the Son of God/Son of Man did not capitulate, did not surrender to the temptation to change the message of God’s Way. God’s way is the way of unity, the way of unconditional love, and the way of forgiveness and reconciliation. These thoughts are heavy and difficult: these thought are not easy thoughts: these thoughts are not capable of being understood until we surrender our allegiance to the Way of the World. Fr. John’s observation makes sense.

This past Sunday focused on the humanity of Jesus. In his human nature he spend his life-time rejecting the practices and protocol of the world, denying in his ministry and in his conquering of death, any efficiency to short-cuts the world believes in and holds sacred. In this way he reveals God’s compassion and loving kindness for all creation. He reveals God’s continuing and abiding presence in history. The Son of God participates wholly in the world, even suffering temptation – at the beginning of his ministry and at the end of his work of revelation of God’s loving-kindness and compassion for creation. This Sunday we move on to the Divinity of Jesus that reveals the uniqueness and the presence of God within Jesus. And that presence is glorious.

Now there’s an overused word in thinking about God things. "Glory!" What is that and how come we don’t experience God’s glory in daily living? As a child growing up in the religious age of devotion, fear of hell, and dependence on apparitions, I thought if I were a good kid and obeyed my parents and the rules of the church, I’d get to see Mary or one of my favorite saints and talk with them. I was disappointed when a few pennies I had saved and left on a mulberry stump in front of our house were still on the stump the morning after I left them for angels to take to help save pagan babies. I was looking for glory, for some sign of the presence of God. The word "glory" is how we translate the idea of "shekinah" from Jewish Rabbinic literature. When God’s presence to the Jews in the desert came to rest on the meeting tent, the glory of God’s presence was visible by brilliant light. Later Rabbinic literature named that Shekinah – literally meaning "dwelling" as in God dwells here. It was a wonderful, terrifying, and mystical experience. That was what I was looking for in my childhood and in later years of seminary study, prayer, and mortification. I was disappointed when it didn’t happen.

In the time of Moses’ experiencing God on Mount Sinai God’s dwelling presence was experienced as earthquake, storm, fire, and wind. That was the time the Law was given to Moses. Those at the foot of the mountain couldn’t comprehend the event and quickly fell into idolatry of the agricultural god Baal imagined as standing on the back of a golden lamb. That human creation of the golden lamb gave the people a form of control. They could choose to come into its presence or to avoid it. It was an effort to keep the power of creation in check, to protect the people from any presence of any god.

Shekinah was also experienced by Elijah also Mount Sinai, also known as Horeb. All the manifestations of Moses were present. But this was a new revelation, a change from Moses’ time. Each natural violent disruption of nature was not God. Finally as fire, wind, and earthquake receded, there came a gentle breeze, described as a whisper. What a change from the encounter of Moses! In each case, these two great spiritual leaders of the Hebrew nation experienced God coming to them.

This Sunday Jesus takes three disciples up a mountain. It must have been an exhausting climb. It appears the three fell asleep, tired from the exertion of climbing. They were awakened by a bright light and the presence of two others with Jesus. They were talking among themselves – sharing experiences and possibilities. The disciples would have recognized in this vision that Jesus is equal to the great law giver and the greatest of the Hebrew Prophets. What a great experience for them! Wouldn’t it be great if this experience continued – so let’s put up three tents: one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah? These holy persons would live there and be available to the disciples. Sounds like the experience of the Hebrews at Mount Sinai – the notion of controlling God’s presence! The conversation among the greats of Hebrew religious life was interrupted by another voice – this one coming from the obscurity of a cloud. What a frightening statement! "This is my chosen Son; listen to him!"

Until this event, Peter, James, and John thought Jesus a wonderful preacher, a compassionate healer, and a great leader. The charism of Jesus attracted crowds. Many came to believe he was the one promised by Isaiah. But this event on the mountain changed all that. From the certainty of the experience of the human Jesus, there now came the uncertainly of the voice of God obviously claiming Jesus as his son. This was new and the uncertainly would have included wondering what this son-ship meant. Was Jesus truly God’s son? This was contrary to the faith of the Jews who understood God as a single One. Was Jesus sort of an adopted son because of his wonderful preaching, his marvelous healing, and his natural leadership? These and other questions would have answers not so much in a class-room or in a private discussion. No, these answers would come not in dogmatic statements, but in the experience of these three disciples, the rest of the disciples, the crowds who came to believe, and the billions of followers of Jesus from the moment of this event through all of history. Our experience of God’s presence continues to grow in human consciousness as we live in the Way of the Kingdom of God, even until now. And not complete even now – but in the future will continue to grow till the end of ages.

This single event is the flash-point that begins humanity experiencing God’s abiding presence among us as Father, Son, and Spirit. It is not in apparitions, in visions, or devotions. We experience God’s presence when our faith opens our eyes to God’s finger-prints in nature and in the vast and expanding extravagance of power, color, light, and energy of the every enlarging universe. We experience God’s abiding presence and God’s infinite compassion and mercy in the gentle touch of those who heal our bodies and our spirits. We experience God’s abiding presence as we look upon an infant and the wonder of that small body. That little bundle contains and will experience over its growth in physical, mental, spiritual, and consciousness the presence of God that grows through growth from unconsciousness to hyper-consciousness of itself and of the world and persons around itself. When we think about the wonder of nature, the incomprehensible reality of life itself, when we experience love for another and for many others, then we experience God. God doesn’t come to us in flashes of lightning and rolling thunder. God doesn’t come to us in the noise and destruction of earthquakes. God doesn’t come to us in the violence of hurricanes and tornadoes. God comes to us through nature, through others, and through the standing in awe of all that is, especially the gift of life. All these messengers seem too ordinary to contain presence of God. In this age, grown because of the age of enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century that explains how reality works, we have become free of superstitions through the validities of the explanations of science. Our faith understands the work of science and in understanding them gives meaning and purpose to our lives. We are led by the events of Christmas’ light to a consciousness of God with us.

So it was on the mountain of transfiguration. It was there that the charismatic preacher, healer, and leader became more than a Son of Man. It was there that the truth about God was revealed to these three disciples. God is present through all history, even in our time. Unless we open our eyes and see with the light of faith, we’ll think God has nothing to do with the moments of life. Our season of Lent is a time to sharpen our consciousness of God present to us. If we let go of what divides us from nature and from living beings and especially from other persons, we’ll realize a peace that begins with the shock of realization that God is here, among us, teaching us, healing us, and leading us to the accomplishment of his will. And his will is a simple, very simple truth. God’s will for each of us is that we have life and have life in abundance. What Lent helps us understand is that the bumps and gorges that come to every life are part of the incompleteness of our consciousness of God’s presence. God never promised us a garden. His promise is that he will always be with us and there to teach, to heal, and to lead. It’s up to us to work to become conscious of that presence. Let Lent be a time for that, for reflection, for looking at others with compassion, mercy, and love. Easter will arrive for us as the experience of an emptying of the tomb that constricts and restricts our spirit. Easter is a time of expanded and abundant life.

Carol & Dennis Keller & Charlie dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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BEING TRANSFIGURED AND TRANSFORMED:

2nd SUNDAY LENT C

St Augustine is one of the most famous saints of the Church. Early in his life he felt drawn to the person of Jesus Christ and to the Christian way of life. But for a long time both lust and pride got in the way of him taking the plunge and getting baptised. Eventually, however, both he and his fifteen year old son, born out of marriage but named ‘Adeodatus’, meaning ‘Gift of God’, were baptised together in the Church of Milan. This took place on April 25th in the year 387.

Augustine has recorded in his memoirs called the 'Confessions' two religious experiences which transformed his attitudes, person, and whole way of life. One has to do with a text from the bible, the other with music.

In the first incident, Augustine has thrown himself under a fig tree. He is depressed to the point of tears at the remembrance of his sins. He asks God how much longer can God put up with him. Then suddenly from a house near by, he hears the voice of a child calling out over and over again, 'Tolle, lege! Take it, read it! Take it, read it!' Immediately Augustine stops crying, his whole face lights up, and he goes to the bible to take and read the first words he finds there. When he opens the book his eyes fall on these words of St Paul to the Romans: 'Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day - no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy. But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires' (Rom 13:13). The message is overpowering. He can resist the Lord no longer.

A little while later, his determination to live as a Christian is reinforced by a second experience. This time it’s the singing of the Christians in the church at Milan. He recalls the deep impression the singing made on him, and says to God in his memoirs: 'I wept at the beauty of your hymns and canticles, and was powerfully moved at the sweet sound of your people singing. The sounds flowed into my ears and truth streamed into my heart.' Through the grace of God coming to Augustine in those two experiences he was changed, transformed - transfigured as a new person.

It’s obvious from the gospels that people around Jesus expected him to change all kinds of situations. So they brought him their sick, their crippled, their mentally disturbed, their children, and many other concerns and worries. He healed some. He comforted and supported others. But as a general rule Jesus did not usher in an age of instant, total, and permanent change of situations. The grass did not grow any greener. The trees did not produce bigger fruits. The wheat in the fields did not yield bigger crops. The rain did not fall more abundantly. The sun did not shine any brighter. And not every sick person who came to him went home feeling better.

But some changes did occur with Jesus. There were changes in people themselves, including the changes that came over Jesus himself. There on the mountain he began to shine like the sun with the splendour and glory of God. In his new condition, he received encouragement from those great spokespersons for God, Moses and Elijah. In effect they were telling him: 'Keep going. Keep up your good work. Persevere with your mission. Even if it leads to the agony of the cross, it will end in glory, the glory you are now experiencing.'

Change comes over the friends of Jesus, Peter, James and John as well, who have seen the change in Jesus and who are overcome, puzzled and perplexed by it. The change that happens to them is deepened when they hear God speaking to them in the voice from the cloud: 'This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ What God is saying to them is this: 'Do what he tells you. Put into practice what he teaches you.'

From now on those friends of Jesus see him in a new light. They take him more seriously as messenger of God and saviour. They also understand that a new world, a better world, must start with them, must start with their heeding that message of God to them: 'Listen to Jesus!.’

'Listen to Jesus!' That's a message for you and me too. Is there, e.g. someone right now who is driving us crazy? Is there someone with whom we are fighting? I How does Jesus see them? What would Jesus do? What words of his apply? What do we hear him saying to us?

‘Listen to Jesus!’ Can we do that especially during our Holy Communion today, when he comes to us as our light and strength to change us for the better? Only if we change and become better than we are right now, can we hope to rise with him to a new, transformed and glorious state. May his influence on us in our Holy Communion with him today, assist us to overcome all fear and indifference, all selfishness and laziness, and anything and everything else that may be stopping us from walking with him on his journey to Jerusalem and listening to him along the way!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


 

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