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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Second Sunday of Lent


The Second Sunday of Lent

February 25, 2018
Genesis 22:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 116; Romans 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10

Lent is meaningful to us because it makes us confront the reality of suffering and death. It causes us to examine the tension we face with death always around us, and we realize we want to transform our ways and move closer to God. We hope that our actions, aligned with God’s grace, will transform us into the people we and God want us to be. The transfiguration of Jesus was God’s glory breaking forth from Jesus’ human form. We want God’s glory to break forth from our actions as well.

            Death reorients our choices. Abraham was faced with a peculiar choice when God asked him to obediently sacrifice his only son. He had a choice – to cut off the promise God gave him of a long life with many descendants or to follow what seemed like a nonsensical request by God. He chose what God specifically asked of him and because of that, God continued to bless him all the more.

            In the moments following the Transfiguration, Jesus tells his disciples that he has to obey God’s will, which involves suffering and death. Though the disciples found this message difficult to comprehend, the messianic suffering of Jesus was part of God’s plan. The transfiguration that occurred on top of the mountain would be a preview of the transfiguration all believers will receive during the resurrection of our bodies.

            In both stories, we notice that God is very near to Abraham and to Jesus. God blessed Abraham by saying, “Because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly.” During the Transfiguration, God says to the disciples, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Both these incidences involved great risk, but because both men listened to God and obeyed God’s will, they were rewarded. The disciples are now asked to listen.

            Listening is the first and most decisive act of obedience. We cannot know God’s will unless we listen and listening involves more than using our ears. It means paying attention to the signs of the times. It means noticing how near God is to us and trusting that God is prompting us to make both easy and difficult daily choices in line with God’s will. It means learning to listen with our whole selves.

            Listening and acting upon what we hear is risky, but we have to look beyond the hardships as we realize God is always near. This is a God who abides. When we look to God’s interests above and beyond our own, God has the opportunity to bless us in ways we cannot anticipate.

            Above all this Lent, let us realize that the words of St. Paul are meant for us. “If God is with us, who can be against us.” The whole universe then is stacked in our favor. Jesus intercedes for us; God acquits us. In everything God has done for us, God promises to be close to us in all things – through hardships, suffering, and even death – and when we do so, we never do it alone.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading:
Monday: (Daniel 9) We have rebelled against you God and sinned, but you have remained faithful to us in the covenant. You, O Lord, have justice on your side.
Tuesday: (Isaiah 1) Wash yourselves clean and make justice your aim. Obey the commandments and take care of your neighbor.
Wednesday: (Jeremiah 18) The people of Judah contrived against Jeremiah to destroy him by his own words.
Thursday: (Jeremiah 17) Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings. More tortuous than all else is the human heart. The Lord alone probes the mind and tests the heart. 
Friday: (Genesis 37) Israel loved Joseph best of all, which created resentment among his brothers, who later sold him into slavery for twenty pieces of silver.
Saturday: (Micah 7) God removes guilt and pardons sins and does not persist in anger.

Monday: (Luke 6) Jesus said, “Be merciful,” and “Stop judging because you will be judged by the way you judge.”
Tuesday: (Matthew 23) The scribes and Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Be wary of someone’s teaching if they have no integrity between their words and actions.
Wednesday: (Matthew 20) As Jesus went up to Jerusalem, he told his disciples, “Behold. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests, condemned to death, handed over to Gentiles, an crucified, and will be raised on the third day.”
Thursday: (Luke 16) A rich man dressed in purple garments died shortly after Lazarus, a beggar. In heaven, Lazarus was rewarded and the rich man was tormented in hell. He appealed to God to spare his family, but was told that they would not listen to Moses or to anyone who was raised from the dead.
Friday: (Matthew 21) Jesus told the parable of a vineyard owner, who entrusted the land to servants, but these men seized the land and possessed it. They killed the servants and the heir. When the owner returned, he cast the wretched men into a tormented death.
Saturday: (Luke 15) Jesus is accused of welcoming sinners and eats with them. He then tells the story of the prodigal one who was well received by his father upon his return. The one who was lost has been found.

Saints of the Week

March 1: Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), was from a wealthy Philadelphian banking family and she and her two sisters inherited a great sum of money when her parents died. She joined the Sisters of Mercy and wanted to found her own order called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work among the African and Native Americans. Her inheritance funded schools and missions throughout the South and on reservations. A heart attack in 1935 sent her into retirement.

This Week in Jesuit History

·       Feb 25, 1558. St Aloysius Gonzaga received tonsure at the Lateran basilica. Within the next month he would receive the minor orders.
·       Feb 26, 1611. The death of Antonio Possevino, sent by Pope Gregory XIII on many important embassies to Sweden, Russia, Poland, and Germany. In addition to founding colleges and seminaries in Cracow, Olmutz, Prague, Braunsberg, and Vilna, he found time to write 24 books.
·       Feb 27, 1767. Charles III banished the Society from Spain and seized its property.
·       Feb 28, 1957. The Jesuit Volunteer Corps began.
·       Mar 1, 1549. At Gandia, the opening of a college of the Society founded by St Francis Borgia.
·       Mar 2, 1606. The martyrdom in the Tower of London of St Nicholas Owen, a brother nicknamed "Little John." For 26 years he constructed hiding places for priests in homes throughout England. Despite severe torture he never revealed the location of these safe places.
·       Mar 3, 1595. Clement VIII raised Fr. Robert Bellarmine to the Cardinalate, saying that the Church had not his equal in learning.

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