Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday word, 21 Feb 16

Committed to Jesus
Lenten Sunday2 C (21 Feb 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The Sundays of Lent open each year with Jesus’ testing in the wilderness. Lent’s Second Sunday invites us to enter into his transfiguration. Today’s preface summarizes the church’s long reflection on Jesus’ transfiguration:  
After Jesus told the disciples of his coming death, he manifested to them his glory…to show that [his] Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection. Even the law and prophets had testified to that.1
I present two things to you to help us observe Lent: first, Jesus’ testing deepened his faithful, firm commitment to his baptism with its mission. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God in action, word and by his person; he would die then rise for his mission. The voice of heaven recognized Jesus’ commitment. This is my chosen one sounded for his disciples. Testing had its fruits.

Second, Lent has fruits for us; and they draw us closer to Jesus; they help us choose Jesus. The Psalmist and St. Paul named some fruits earlier: feeling courage instead of fear by being close to Jesus; feeling our savior bathing us with his compassion; and feeling empowered by his compassion—Holy Spirit—and fashioned like him in whom we are baptized.

Our lenten exercises bear these and other fruits that shape us more like Jesus. Jesus is our goal; lenten exercises help us meet Jesus anew; they deepen each person’s relationship with Jesus that baptism began. His eucharist nourishes it, and confirmation empowers us to live it for the church and the world. Renewing and deepening our relationship with Jesus lets us be in the world and for the world in new ways.

If we fast, for example, we may lose a little weight, but that is not a fruit of Lent. Its fasting feeds solidarity with others who hunger in any way. Solidarity with others, especially the poor, those acquainted with miseries and those at the margins of societies and life Jesus practiced. Solidarity is one face of mercy. When we give ourselves to lenten exercises of every sort they free us to show mercy more readily.

Lent’s focus on Jesus and our relationship with Jesus that began in baptism helps us revive our commitment to Jesus. Relationships require commitment. Commitment is both an openness to another as well as a self-gift to another. Friends nourish their commitments especially when “hard and rough is the road [and] heavy the going.”2 That road-image St. Thomas Aquinas offered as he sought meaning for us in Jesus’ transfiguration. Like each relationship staying near Jesus demands effort. To be in the world as friends of Jesus, as well as to behave as his friends, challenges us. Nor is it always easy, smooth or natural. Jesus revealed his glory to his disciples to help them feel, know and share his goal—passion and resurrection.

That is a grace of Lent to pray for and desire. While Jesus may not reveal his glory to us, he continues to give himself to us in manifold ways: in sacraments; liturgies; personal praying; and enriching our faith, to name a few. They offer us Christian courage, a felt knowledge that Jesus is our savior, that he bathes us in his compassion and empowers us to show his compassion to others.

Each Lent offers us new gifts because we are not the same as other Lents. I am still asking for Jesus to help me notice what he desires to give me this Lent. I pray to let him heal my vision so I may notice his gift then share his courage to live it.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause to rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Peter, James and John to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for inviting you to join his mission and showing us how.
  • Ask him for grace to live your baptism faithfully and freely.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer: Jesus modeled praying for us so we might come to know him better, share his courage and enjoy daily a strong foundation for mature, faithful living.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Preface, Lenten Sunday2, Roman Missal.
  2. His Summa, Part 3, Q. 45, Article 1.

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