Second Sunday of Lent

Today’s readings want to give us the clearest possible reassurance of an overarching  truth; namely that God is ever present, actual, real and immediate in our lives. There is no time that he is absent, has  given up on or deserted us. The truth is that he is always here and it is one that needs to be absorbed in prayer and sung continually literally as a mantra. It is something that needs to be emblazoned on our foreheads and written in our hearts. However, there are times when we doubt and question. In our despondency and forelorness we can turn away and look for the comforts and promises of the world. How easy it is for the world and its narrative to set the music and indeed seduce us into doing things which deny, disobey and set out to destroy the beauty of God’s wonder and creation. The time that we are living through at the moment will help us if we have eyes of discernment to see, is one in which the acceptance or rejection of God’s plan is much clearer to recognise.  In the spirit of the gospel we need to go to the high mountain and embrace the silence to see things as they truly are. We need to be sensibly critical of what the consequences are for the isolation that has now been imposed upon us, what did the closure of churches signify and our inability to socialise.  Indeed one could ask the question that if marriage, namely the nuptial covenant, which is at the heart of the life of the Trinity and therefore of God’s plan.  The fact that people cannot marry is more than significant.

Today’s readings convey that overpowering reassurance already mentioned of the continuing presence of God in our lives and in the world. First in them there is no subtlety there is the interruption in the elements as the clouds move and the mist comes down and then the voice from heaven. Second the voice that speaks is clear, loud and impossible to ignore.  First, we hear that it is the Lord who speaks as Abraham is addressed and then in the gospel the overriding promise to us that the Son of God is always with us, he is the beloved and we must listen to him. Third there is the call to sacrifice and love as Abraham is asked to prove his love of God by sacrificing his son Isaac.  Abraham is invited to deep trust. Underpinning all this is the central theme of the passion that is soon to be revealed in Jerusalem. The gospel is clearly situated with the promise to the disciples that all must go to Jerusalem which will conclude with his “rising from the dead“.  All is about sacrifice and love which is at the heart of God’s revelation namely a willingness to forego, sacrifice and give up on our individualism and independence. It is thus that we experience the closeness of God. This truth one could say is revealed today in glorious technicolour and sets the scene for the rest of the season of Lent and Our journey to Jerusalem. We need to embrace, remember and take it to prayer. The drama is overseen by the omnipotence, omniscience and closeness of God which is so clearly demonstrated.

To help us in this journey there are two truths that we need to hold onto. First we have to be ready always to go to a high mountain so us to leave the world, empty ourselves for him and find silence. There are many blessings and graces of this time and one in particular is that we have been taught and offered namely the precious gift of silence so that we may better hear and listen to God. The second is that we need to be ready to be alone and not craving the noise of the world so that we can hold on to that other truth, “then suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore but only Jesus” - it is this that we must embrace in the silence of our hearts. In the quietness we can discover and know that Jesus is always there. A little practice perhaps for the season of Lent is always having a rosary in our hand because this is like Mary the mother of Jesus leading, assuring us and showing on the way to her son.

The word of God which is divine revelation is asking us to acknowledge the presence of God. This happens when we empty ourselves in this season of Lent so that we may be ready to meet him. Let us on the high mountain in silence empty ourselves so as to be Filled with his life and his love.