As many of you may well remember, this Sunday’s celebration of the Holy Family at Nazareth is my nemesis? I have long found it difficult to be comfortable in preaching...
We have, as Saint Paul reminds us THIS SUNDAY [2 TIMOTHY 1: 8b -10] “a holy calling.” This is a calling “for his own purpose” which, in its essentials, is that we may be “brought (to) life … and life through the Gospel.”
It is very valuable for us, especially during Lent, to be reminded of our
CALLING. We have all been called – called to become something greater than we are at any particular moment. This call is ongoing. It never stops. We have never ‘arrived’. The Garden of Resurrection is only reached after a series of Gethsemanes.
The Lord’s purposes and life through the Gospel is why and how we discover the riches of Christ. (see last week’s reflection.) As our
OLD TESTAMENT READING [GENESIS 12: 1 – 4A] tells us – the Lord “will show you.” Then, “you will be a blessing.”
Over the years I have been asked to bless a great many people – and almost as many ‘things’. I often wonder why so many good Christian-Catholics remain unaware that they themselves are well able and qualified to call down the Lord’s blessing. Is it, for example, impossible for a mother and / or father to call down a blessing upon their home – and believe that it IS blessed as a result? “You will be a blessing.” I have reached the stage when as a guest I always decline, on principle, the invitation to say The Grace (call down the blessing) before a meal. ‘I am not the Host – let him / her do it’. In any case, anyone who is blessed must be able to call down a blessing on another?!
However, all of this depends on our transparency (last
week’s reflection) and our willingness to discover what to leave behind us. In our Genesis extract Abraham is told to “go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house.” It is only a little later that he is told the result of this departure: “so that you will be a blessing.” Never forget that we are able to call a blessing down upon ourselves. However, to call a blessing upon ourselves, on others, or on any material thing and need we must be free from unnecessary ‘baggage’ and (more importantly) free from secret or hidden agendas (remember last week’s encounter by Adam and Eve with the serpent!).
Each one of us needs to call down a blessing upon our Lenten endeavours but, at the same time, we must ensure that we are willing to leave certain matters behind us. Abraham was asked to leave behind very personal, basic, and domestic matters. We are not asked that much but are expected to be ready and prepared to enter Lent without carrying heavy suitcases! Travelling light will ensure that, like Abraham, we will enter “the land that I will show you.”
As we read
THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 17: 1 – 9] it is helpful to bear in mind that Jesus took Peter, James and John to a strange, unexpected, location. It is reasonable to presume that the three disciples did not make the journey with any hidden agendas and neither were they carrying a lot of baggage. On the mountain they were shown something about the Lord. The experience changed them for ever. No doubt they were puzzled about why they and no one else had been chosen to make the journey but it is impossible that they ever regretted having been asked or having accepted the invitation. Do not overlook the crucial verse which tells us that “when they lifted up their eyes,they saw no one but Jesus only.“
If we accept the invitation to go to the land (Lent?!) he will shows us – and be willing to climb the mountain of Lent WITH HIM – in the end we WILL be able to see Jesus much more clearly – see him and ourselves. Lent is an invitation. We are free to accept or decline it. BUT, if we accept and go into the land and up the mountain then the opening words of THIS SUNDAY’S PSALM [33 or 32] must be one of the foundations: “the word of the Lord is faithful, and all his works to be trusted.”
We commenced this reflection with reference to the New Testament reading and Paul’s reminder of the fact of our CALLING. The calling is an invitation. This needs to be emphasised because it is a personal, individual, invitation. There is no compulsion to accept. Every individual MUST make his / her own FREE choice. So many parents and grandparents worry and fret (even scourge themselves) when some or even all the children do not ‘practice the faith’ (whatever that may or may not mean or involve). They need to be reminded that they have done nothing wrong. At some stage ‘the children’ have made their personal choice – or still have to make it.
What do you do? Whatever you do, make sure that you never nag, ask leading questions, or make less than subtle observations. Leave well alone, continue with your own personal witness, and never stop loving them. Love is even more basic than witness because witness flows out of love. As our Psalm tells us, the Lord will “rescue their souls from death … keep them alive in famine.”