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Contents: Volume 2 - The Second Sunday of LENT (A)
March 8, 2020


 

  The

  Second

  Sunday

  LENT

 

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 2A 2020

There are two critical things that the three apostles (and we) are told in this Sunday's Gospel. Peter is responding to the transfigured Jesus as only Peter can at that point in his spiritual journey... impulsively, and without fully understanding what is happening. Peter and the other apostles have their attention laser-pointed, however, back to Jesus when the Voice from the cloud says "listen to him."

Most of us are like Peter in many ways, hopefully not just early- on Peter, but the transformed Peter, the Rock. To move along that continuum, however, we need to be refocused as well. I think a main question during this week of Lent that might help us is "to whom do we listen?"

I don't know about you, but I have over done listening via the screen thing this past week! Between all the hype about the fewer Democratic candidates coming up to Super Tuesday and the serious warnings about the coronavirus, I'm on overload. I need to listen to the second crucial thing the apostles/we were told: "Do not be afraid".

It is REALLY easy to become anxious over something in the news especially if it is rather important or even about a particular personal challenge that one faces. All you have to do is focus on the problem. To paraphrase a recent news clip, "Wouldn't it be nice if you could watch the news and NOT have your blood pressure go sky high?"

Well, yes, all you have to do is focus on Jesus before, during, and after.... in other words, have Jesus firmly in the center of your life, your reality. Easy to say, not easy to do these days. Lent encourages us to make time for Jesus, extra time, consistent time, right now time!

I have the luxury to stay home tomorrow, by myself, for most of the day. I intend to use that gift of time to gift myself with extra time with Jesus, no screen time, no errands, not even laundry! In this much too hectic and anxious time in our world, let us make extra time to listen to the Father and the Son so that the Holy Spirit may guide us through our journey and transformation with more wisdom and less fear.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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2.

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Second Sunday of Lent March 8, 2020

Genesis 12:1-4; Responsorial Psalm 33; 2nd Timothy 1:8-10; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 17:8; Matthew 17:1-9

What a transformation! Last Sunday we were stuck in temptation and sin. Suddenly, without warning, we’re no longer cast out of paradise and we’re no longer amid the wild beasts and reptiles that populate deserts. This Sunday we are called to witness the call of Abram from his comfortable life. He is called from all that he has built up, all that he enjoys, even from his family and friends. He’s going out, going away from his comfort zone. His life and his wife Sara’s life were on a predictable trajectory. Theirs’ was not a marriage blessed with children. They must have grieved that their lives, their personal history would end with their deaths. They would be forgotten as thought they had never lived. For it was and is a hope of every man and every woman that their lives and their achievements will live on after them in sons and daughters. Their life stories should be told to grandsons and granddaughters. But for Abram and Sara theirs were lives that would end with their own deaths.

Then out of the blue came this call from the Lord. We’d like to think of Abram and Sara as believers in the One God. There is a comment in Genesis about their household gods. Despite being called by God, they still drew inspiration from myths about other gods. However, it is evident they were the first of a long line of believers in the Lord of lords, the God of gods. The Lord promised Abram and Sara they would be the ancestors of a great nation. Abram’s name was changed and he was renamed Abraham. That name, means "father of a great people." For an old man and his old wife, this must have been an unbelievable promise. We recall the time an angel of God promised Abraham that by the following year, there would be a child in their dwelling. Sara is heard laughing in the tent at the absurdity of the thought. The angel promised Abraham and his wife would be the ancestors of great peoples. From them came three great faith traditions that influence and dominate and inspire the best of human endeavors through out the world. In answering this call from God, the seeds of Judaism, of Christianity, and of Islam were planted. What’s sad about this is that we are all brothers and sisters in faith and have spent blood and treasure in killing one another. The curse of Cain continues. With the very best of these faith traditions seems to come as well the very worst of cruelty, violence, and hatred.

Following on the darkness and sin in last week’s readings, this week the gospel takes us again to the top of a mountain. This time it is not to survey the world and the accumulation of power and wealth. This time we are led up the mountain not by the devil but by the Son of Man/Son of God. This time instead of temptations of power, of wealth, and of fame we are brought into a different world. This world is influenced and led by Moses, the liberator and lawgiver. In the freedom provided humanity by the understanding of the law all people who follow the law will discover a life of promise and hope. The law of God is not restrictive: God’s law is about giving us freedom. By following God’s law we avoid becoming addicted to self-defeating behaviors. By following God’s law our relationships are free and freedom giving to others. In this way Moses is God’s instrument to liberation and to living a life of growth and maturity. God’s law forms attitudes which encourage us to live in freedom and positive relationships. In this our time, there are powerful movements that would steal our freedom. Consumerism robs us of financial security and resources so desperately needed for health, education, nourishment, and dignity and worth. As Pharaoh so very long ago ordered the death of babies to ensure his grip over the Hebrews, so we also live in Pharaoh’s culture of death. It’s amazing even after thousands of years of Pharaohs and the terror of their oppression and slavery we are still drawn to believe in such people. Pharaoh’s power and influence always seeks to oppress and enslave.

Let’s consider the presence of Elijah on this mountain. Our world is influenced and given meaning and purpose by prophets such as Elijah. A prophet is one who interprets past and current history, exposing the truth of what events and relationships mean. Prophets are not predictors of the future. Their insights and teachings are predictive only to the extent that the events and relationships set the scene for the future. In our world of today when words and images circle the globe in seconds, we are easily swayed by persons who wish to move us to their purposes. Truth is all the more under attack with technological tools. We are in desperate need of truth sayers. We need true prophets.

These two great initiators of Abrahamic religions are seen with Jesus. By this association, Jesus is put on a par with Moses and Elijah. What happens next puts Jesus as the successor of Moses and Elijah and yet also a messenger whose ministry completes the work, message, and life of Moses and Elijah. It is the voice coming from the cloud that identifies Jesus as the Son of God. That voice of God heard by Peter, James, and John encourages these three disciples to "listen to him." This is the message to these three so very close to the beginning of their relationship with Jesus. There is purpose to Jesus’ admonition to these three. Peter, James, and John have fallen on their faces, overcome by the vision and by the clear presence of God on that mountain top. "Don’t tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." What a strange admonition! This vision had the potential of attracting a great following. Why keep it secret until much later? And what is this being "raised from the dead?"

This coming together of the law and the prophets clearly supported Jesus in his ministry. The voice from the cloud, a second time in Jesus’ ministry, claimed Jesus as his Son. Now in the course of Jesus’ ministry, comes the instruction to "listen to him."

For Peter, James, and John, the transfigure experience was clearly understood as a confirmation of Jesus as a prophet in the line of Elijah. Like Moses, Jesus is the liberator of those captive in body, mind, or spirit. That freedom gained by Moses centuries earlier has moved beyond slavery of labor. This is now an expanded freedom that includes the whole person, body, mind, and spirit. And this freedom is not merely the absence of chains of addiction, of oppression, or of influence. This freedom gained restores the dignity and worth of the human person so beaten down by tyrants, by liars, by those who seek to capture the human wills. The human person under the influence of this liberator now has a new horizon to pursue. In this salvation, each of us can flourish in our personhood. This liberator not only provides us release from what holds us captive. This liberator provides us the truth of a way forward, a way to grow by walking in the way of the Christ.

This vision’s power would become apparent to the three disciples only after Jesus’ ministry was completed and his acceptance of death on the cross and his being raised from that death. The ministry of Jesus, the freeing of persons enslaved and oppressed by disease, addiction, and death and his acceptance of death and transforming it into a transition to eternal life are given perspective by the Resurrection of Jesus. Life becomes a journey toward maturity, toward holiness, toward completion of the seed that is us at birth. If we understand the revelation that is Jesus, that comes to us from the Hebrew Scriptures, and reaches completion in the Christian Scriptures, then we can shout in song, "Death where is your sting: grave where is your victory?" (1st Corinthians 15)

The Transfiguration is an experience of God’s presence. Each of us experiences God at moments in our living. Lent is a period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving through which we heighten our awareness, our consciousness of God, present with us. That is God’s name – in Hebrew Yahweh. The name by which God wishes to be known means "I am with you in all things, all events, all moments in my Word, in my Community, and in my Spirit given us." Let us listen to God!

 

Carol & Dennis Keller (Charlie – editing) dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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3.

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LISTENING TO JESUS: 2ND SUNDAY OF LENT (A)

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 his 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 happened on April 25th, 387.

Augustine has recorded in his memoirs called the Confessions two religious experiences which transformed his attitudes and his 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 up, read it! Take it up, 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. On opening the book his eyes fall on these words of St Paul: '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' (Letter to the Romans 13:12-13). The message is overpowering. He can resist the Lord no longer.

Some time later his determination to live as a Christian is reinforced by a second experience. This time it’is the singing of the Christians in the Church of Milan. He remembers the deep impression the singing made on him. He 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. These 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 transfigured, transformed, changed. He became a new person, and later a priest, bishop, and writer. On a wall of his house he had the following sentence written in large letters: ‘Here we do not speak evil of anyone.’

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 their other 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 grow 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 he met went home feeling better.

But some changes did occur, changes in people themselves, including the changes that came over Jesus himself first of all. There on the top of the mountain he begins to shine like the sun with the splendour and glory of God. In his new condition, he receives encouragement from those great spokespersons for God, Moses and Elijah. In effect they tell 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 glimpsing.'

Change comes over the friends of Jesus, Peter, James and John as well, who have seen the change in Jesus and who are awe-struck, puzzled and perplexed by it. The change that happens to them is deepened when they hear God saying to them in the voice from the cloud: 'This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him!’ So God is telling them: 'Do what he tells you. Live his teachings.' From that moment those first 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!' It’s a message for you and me too. Is there, e.g. someone right now who is driving us crazy? Is there someone we are fighting? Is there some group we are fed up with? How would Jesus see them? How does Jesus see them? What would Jesus do? What words of his can help? What do we hear him saying to us in his words and example?

Listen to Jesus! Can we do that especially during our Holy Communion today, when he visits us as our nourishment, our strength, our light, our help, coming to us to transfigure and transform us for the better? Only if we change and become better people ran we hope to rise with him to a new, transformed and glorious life. In our Holy Communion with him today, then, may he influence us to overcome all fear and indifference, all selfishness and laziness, all harshness and hardness of heart! May he help us, in fact, to overcome anything and everything, that may be stopping us from walking with him along the road 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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Volume II Archive

We keep up to six articles in this archive.  The latest is always listed first.

The TRIDUUM Palm Sunday 5th Sunday Lent 4th Sunday Lent 3rd Sunday Lent 2nd Sunday Lent


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