The two pillars that make the doorway into every Lent are last Sundayís and this Sundayís Gospels. Both depend on an event. Last Sunday Jesus went into the desert to be tempted after He had been baptized by John. By that baptism he joins us in the fullness of our humanity which is in need of repentance. One with us, The Spirit impels him into the desert to be tempted just like us. But while we fail time and again, he shows us that He is totally like us in all things but sin and invites us to follow him to live as his disciples. He promises to bring us beyond sin to newness of life. This Sunday, he gives his three closest disciples a glimpse of His glory. Just prior to that he has told him that the way he will overcome sin and death is by his passion and death on the cross. The disciples are confused, disappointed, downhearted by that. That was not in their plans at all! And so up the mountain he brings them and is transfigured before them with Moses and Elijah, the great prophets of the Old Covenant that he will now surpass.
The reaction is typical: at first wonder and awe! Then Peter reverts to type and starts babbling about setting up tents and yada yada yada. He doesnít stop until the voice of The Father himself: This is my beloved Son; Listen to him! Alone with Jesus they stop and listen. Overawed, they are also still confused. And he tells them to keep silent until The Son of Man is risen from the dead!
My friends, we enter Lent once again with these two Gospel passages to guide us. Baptism that leads to new life that in turn needs to be renewed annually by our repentance of our sins, our renewal through the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. In the Glory of the transfiguration Jesus offers us as a promise that as he will rise from the dead, we too are enabled by Him to follow him from this life into the eternal life of Glory with him in heaven. Yet we must always learn and learn again that glory comes to Jesus only through his passion and death. We, his disciples, cannot expect otherwise. We too follow the way of the cross this Lent and every Lent for we know that from his death comes our life and in his death we find our redemption and salvation
Let me use this moment to make a suggestion to you here and those watching. This Lent I invite us all to keep quiet! Be silent! Not talk so much! First of all it is good for us to stop talking about one another. There is too much gossiping and criticizing in the Church today. We are all very quick to point out the splinter in everyone elseís eye: the Pope, the Bishop, the neighbor, the pastor, the family member you do not get along with. In a Church which is being constantly attacked both here and abroad, we donít need to join their choruses. And we do need to being praying for one another and especially for our suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Offer up the criticisms and gossip for them this Lent.
But even more importantly, I invite you to be silent and let God talk to you in your heart and in your inner soul. The example of Abraham is instructive to us. Here is one of the most anguishing, sad and heart rending moments in history. God seems to take away his promise to Abraham and tells Abraham to destroy Godís promise and kill his own son. And Abraham says not a word. He obeys. He goes step by step to fulfill this horrendous act and the only words he speaks of any hope come when Yitzahk asks where is the lamb of sacrifice. God will provide are the only words from this tormented but holy, obedient and faithful man. And in the silence of that moment God responds to the man of faith. God provides for His chosen people!
God spoke again at the Transfiguration. And what did God say to the three disciples on the mountain? This is my beloved Son! Listen to Him!
And that is what I would propose for us all this Lent. Take time and listen to Him. Stop what you are doing. Sit down and be quiet for a while. It may be only five minutes but try to make it fifteen. Choose one of the Gospels. This year we are using Mark but choose your favorite and then slowly read a small passage of it. It only has to be a sentence or a paragraph. Not more. The let the words slip into your heart, your soul, your whole being. And let God talk to you. Be still. Know he is there. Repeat the words of the passage. Let them guide you to show you the Lord speaking to your heart. At the end of this time ask yourself what you heard him say to you, just to you. And then thank Him. Thank him for what he gave to you in those minutes together. Thank him for what he has given you by a share in his life and death. If you want to promise him something that is ok. But you do not have to. You just have to be quiet and let him become a part of your inner being. Then you will see how he helps you in your outer day to day life.
Trust me he will be with you and you will have a rich and full Lent that will make you ready to celebrate the Sacred Triduum with all of us together here at St. Agnes. Remember what Paul told us today? Heís right you know! If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not give us everything else along with him?