One activity that we can associate with Lent is walking –it’s a journey. That’s why, in some places, you organise Lenten pilgrimage which is, essentially, about walking. The idea is to displace oneself which implies leaving what’s familiar to me and discover something new. It’s learning to let go. Can I say I have already started moving?
Bible readings Genesis 22: 1-2, 9-18 Psalm 116: 10, 15-19 Romans 8: 31-34 Mark 9: 2-10
Blood thirsty God, bad note our sensibility
If there are texts in the Bible unbearable to our sensibility, one of them is this Sunday’s First Reading: “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” If killing one’s own child is the exigence of faith in God we would have far much less people practising their faith today. Even though that was a practice among pagan religions of Abraham’s time; today it’s simply unimaginable. A blood thirsty god is not for us. Indeed, with the God of Israel who says to Abraham: “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him…” such practice has its place no more. So, let’s not walk away in anger; there’s something we can learn.
Faith of Abraham, he’s chosen to move on
In the obedience of Abraham we can discern: letting go and giving without reserve: “…now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Here Abraham just continues the march began ever since his first encounter with God: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Gn 12:1). Since then Abraham learnt to let go, and to move on. However, it’s important to note that it’s not a punishment, or simply testing him, when God asks Abraham to leave and go –it’s for his own good. Abraham left for his own sake; it’s for fulfilling the promise.
The Lenten season is a journey we have undertaken for our own good. Such symbolic displacement points to the change of attitude and of behaviour that we may need we may need to make in our lives. Lenten season challenges us to make a change in our lives, not as punishment, but that we may live fully. Of course, we know from our experiences that sometimes we advise a friend to move: change your work or place of residence. At times that can be a painful rupture and yet that may be the only way to a life that’s more fulfilling.
Abraham is therefore an inspiration to us. It’s only up to each person to see: in which I areas do I need to let go and move on? How can I give fresh air to my life? But we probably have to battle with the tendency to remain implanted; it’s temptation in the Gospel.
Let’s build three tents
What an overwhelming experience for the disciples when they see Jesus transfigured on the mountain! No need making them appear as guilty persons; the reaction of Peter, John and James is only natural: we build tents and stay on. Indeed, we want good things to last. Remember spending a beautiful evening with friends; you just want to go on but only to realise that you must go in order to be ready for an activity the following morning. Besides, it’s not bad for the disciples to remain there beholding the glory of God, only that it would mean the end of the mission. We go down, so Jesus tells them. He encourages the disciples not to remain fixed but to move on.
Isn’t Jesus encouraging each one of us to move on? Just check where you would possibly be stuck; what are the things that are bolting your feet and thus preventing you from moving? Lent is a journey, just check if you have actually began moving –it’s never too late.
This can inspire us also about prayer
He’s a spiritual person! We have certainly heard that before, and probably not only have we pronounced such words; we may have even desired to be spiritual persons. But have we ever wondered to find out what it means to be a spiritual person?
We may have an image of a spiritual person of someone in perpetual ecstasy –a person with no contact with the mundane world. I cry heresy! Perhaps, the transfiguration experience can we help us to descend the mountain and help us have our feet on the ground.
Prayer is one of the recommended acts during Lent. But what is it about? I call it a mountain experience. Why?
In the biblical sense the mountain, an elevated land, is close to heaven, and thus a privileged place of encounter with God; just like prayer is that intimacy with God. So the temptation, like in the case of the disciples, is to want to remain in that ecstasy –with all the risking of cutting ourselves off the reality around us. That’s why as he did to his disciples on the mountain, today, Jesus is equally telling us: let’s descend the mountain. So, if we have intensified prayer as Lenten resolution, well and good; nevertheless, let’s take care so that our intimacy with God becomes also an inspiration to commit ourselves to the wellbeing of those around us.
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