From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
February 28 – Second Sunday in Lent
This past year has been trying to our patience at best – and has destroyed the faith and hope of some at worst. Nearly every person has been affected in some way over the year. We have been tested by the need for isolation, forced to wear masks, socially distance, and give up many of the conveniences we had taken for granted. Freedoms have been taken from us. Many lost jobs and financial security. Even worse, many lost loved ones to the pandemic. We have even had to do without our God through reception of the Eucharist, celebration of the liturgy, and gathering with fellow Christians. WE HAVE BEEN TESTED! We have had to sacrifice! And in many ways it has made no sense.
“God put Abraham to the test.” Our first reading recalls the instruction of God to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham knew what God had promised him and the importance of Isaac to the fulfillment of that promise. Even so, Abraham, without hesitation or question, followed God’s will obediently because he had total trust in God’s promise, even as it appeared God was breaking the covenant. Abraham did not think about the sacrifice or question God, but rather against every human sentiment and a seemingly irrational demand on God’s part, Abraham trusted and believed that God knew what he was doing. Abraham’s response leads him to a deeper relationship with God. God rewarded him and spared Isaac.
Our second reading reminds us that God did not spare his own son, so that we might be spared the loss of eternal salvation. It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to us from the beginning of all time. How can we possibly doubt a God who goes to such lengths for us? There is no obstacle too great for him to overcome in delivering his hope and salvation to us if we will but believe and trust in him. The hope which the Transfiguration offers to us is the encouragement we need to weather the storms or our lives.
As Vincentians, we need to sometimes help those to whom we minister to understand that there is hope for the future. This is the greatest gift we give to them – not food, or rent or utilities or gas – but hope and presence. The sacrifices they are confronted with often make no sense to them. They are tested and see no way forward. We are called to give them belief and trust that God has a plan for each of us, and he will deliver us from harm. We must seek God’s will through prayer and discernment, that we might patiently help to open their eyes to God’s will, His plan and His hope for them. Do I trust completely in God? Do I submit in total obedience, even when I do not understand? Do I believe even “when I am greatly afflicted” and respond “Here I am!” when He calls us? Am I ready, open and willing to allow God to use my presence to help others to see His hope? Do I make myself available to the Spirit – or do I simply take him along for the ride?
Lord Jesus, allow me to work humbly as your servant, being open to whatever you ask of me. Give me the courage, the trust, and the strength of Abraham in accepting and following your will. Enable me to show your love through my words and actions. Give me patience to listen for your direction – and then to act upon it. Shine your light through me that others might see. We pray all of this in your name. Amen