My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. We are within the season of Lent. During the second Sunday of Lent, we hear the wondrous proclamation, as Jesus and some of the apostles were praying, that Jesus is God’s chosen Son. We are to listen to him. There are many words which might strike you significantly when hearing this proclamation. The one that is most striking to me is the word, chosen.
What happened when the proclamation occurred? The apostles who were chosen by Jesus became fearful. The chosen men were in awe of this mysterious encounter. They were beginning to understand that Jesus was not like them, but very special. As Jesus walked with them, their faith turned to God and the Scripture was revealed to them in a way they had not known. They began to understand that God is present as a voice that bears witness to Jesus. This grounding helps the apostles as the journey of the cross becomes their reality.
So too, each one of us is chosen. We are a gift of God and we are also called, through the Sacrament of Baptism, to listen to him. We become the vessel of God on this earth to make the earth sacred and reach for a homeland that is beyond our physical living.
Chosen by God. How does the proclamation of this change our daily living during this Lenten season and beyond? How will we, by our thoughts, words and deeds, show others that we are listening to him? How are we caressing the wounds of Christ which we have lain upon Him as we have left him at the cross?
The announcement of local, national, and world news may bring our collective spirit to be encased in spiritual pain. By being chosen, we cannot remain in this “tomb,” for we know that, in Jesus, we are the father’s beloved children. Pope Francis said the Christian life means “wanting to live life as a love story, the story of God’s faithful love, he who never abandons us and wishes to be in communion with us always. This is the reason for our joy, a joy that no one in the world and no circumstance in our lives can take from us. It is a joy that gives peace also in the midst of pain, a joy that already makes us participate in that eternal happiness which awaits us.” Despite our weaknesses, we can become a light in the darkness of the world.
Lent invites us to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in our personal, family and social lives as we fast, pray and offer gift for each other. Fasting changes our attitude toward others – to be ready to suffer for love. Prayer teaches us to abandon our secular idols and the self-sufficiency of our ego – to acknowledge our need for the Lord’s mercy. Offering gifts for each other means that we increase God’s generosity by giving up the idea that we are in charge of our future – that sharing what we have with each other, harmonizing our resources acknowledging the earth as sacred.
This, my dear people, is what I would ask of you this Lenten season: to be in awe of God; to listen to Him that we might, individually and collectively, become a light in the darkness of the world. To be chosen is not an easy journey. It led Jesus to the cross. We have and will continue to find ourselves at the foot of the cross as we are chosen. This is not a difficulty, but a joyous proclamation of who we are as children of God. Let us abandon the tomb of insecurity, uncertainty, degradation, and hatred and become an Easter people as we are chosen to be.