We are now walking the Lenten road to Easter. It has been over a week. How are things going for you? Whatever you are doing for this Lenten season or whatever you are planning to do, don’t let it distract you from understanding why you are living and praying the way you are.
You have been given a unique opportunity to listen. Lent is a listening season. This is clear in the reading for this Sunday. Abraham, hears God asking him to sacrifice his beloved son on Isaac. As one writer said, “God is not a cruel master who calls for painful acts of obedience from his servants in order to satisfy his own divine egoism.”
Isaac, a name which means “smile of God” was the most precious gift that God had given Abraham and Sarah. God asked Abraham “are you prepared to give back this smile of God?’ Abraham trusted in God. He believed that God knew what he was doing. He knew that Isaac was essential to Gods promise to give him descendants. And he put God first.
It is a challenge for you and me today. Am I prepared to love God first? The right order, as Bishop Barron says, is to love God first and then to love everything and everybody else for the sake of God. When Abraham was tested by God he was prepared to sacrifice everything that was most dear and love God first. The reward was “I will shower blessing on you. I will make your descendants as many as the stars.” What for us is the thing and person we love above all? Am I working on putting God first before all and then loving everything and every person for the sake of God?
Jesus took the three disciples, Peter, James and John to the top of the mountain. As Jesus was transfigured, the voice from the cloud that covered Moses, Jesus and Elijah said, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.” Peter wanted to stay on the mountain. It was a wonderful moment for him. Seeing Jesus as he really is. He was wanting to experience God’s power and consolation all the time. But he had to come down from the mountain and with the other two he would go with Jesus through his suffering and death. This was listening to Jesus. He had already made one prediction of his passion and death. If you love me above all things then there is not only glory but also suffering in love and ultimately resurrection.
It is so easy for me to pray the prayer of Abandonment written by Charles de Foucauld, especially the last few lines:
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
This Lent we struggle to let go of our selfishness, pettiness, complacency and comfortable way of life so that we can surrender ourselves into God’s hands without reserve.