From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
March 13 – Second Sunday in Lent
Patience! It has never been one of my better qualities. And I have to be honest – the past two years have been very trying on my patience! From an auto accident to a pandemic with isolation and an inability to attend church, to family health issues and a personal yearlong battle with an unknown foe that turned out to be cancer, and now a world that seems to be spiraling out of control! I have found myself at times feeling exhausted, frustrated and bewildered. I have questioned God as to why – only to hear silence! My story is not unique, as I suspect many of you have faced similar challenges and the inevitable doubts and questions they raise. We are tested time and again – sometimes with one challenge right after the other. And we are not very good at waiting for answers – particularly when the waiting involves trust in someone we can’t see and expectations in outcomes we don’t fully understand.
Our readings this week – and last – remind us that this has been part of the story of man’s relationship with God from the beginning. In the first reading, we find Abraham at a point where his patience is surely being tested. God had promised him that he would have many descendants who would rule the land. He had been faithful to God in all things through life and was now old with little hope of land or descendants. God reassures him though of the reward that is to come. Abraham trusted and believed that God knew what he was doing and would deliver on His promises. He remained faithful to Him, trusting in the Lord. God rewarded him with greater blessings than he could ever have imagined.
In our Gospel, the apostles are likely facing exhaustion as well. They have recently returned from going out two by two across the countryside to preach, evangelize, cure the sick and drive out demons. Through it all they surely met with rejection and frustration in some instances. Just eight days before this reading, Jesus has told them of his impending death and persecution. Even more, if they are to be his disciples, they too will be persecuted. Sobering thoughts that can cause them and us to question God – WHY? In their transfiguration moment – God provides them the answer through a glimpse of what is to come if they will trust and be patient.
As we enter Lent, we see off in the distance the glory of Easter. We are reminded of the struggle against temptations, sin and evil – and the doubts and fears these spawn which are ultimately replaced by a transfiguration into pure love and joy. We are reminded 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, BE PATIENT 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. How do I submit in total obedience, even when I do not understand? How do I believe even “when I am greatly afflicted”? How do I help others to see His hope and wait in patience and trust?
Lord Jesus, allow me to work humbly as your servant, being open to whatever you ask of me. Give me the patience, the courage, and the trust 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. I pray all of this in your name. Amen