..first six words of first rdg set tone & context for our journey in life..”God put Abraham to the test”..we have been led to believe Lent is a time for spiritual self-appraisal..40days of testing by a God who, let’s be honest, has not been a very likeable person in most of human history..a God who needs to be placated, his vengeance bought off, so we offer sacrifices [ Sacrifice of the Mass, the sacrifices of giving up moment of self-enjoyment in Lent ] to buy him off.. ..& at end of a lifetime of compliance to a God fully in control a final demand is made of Abraham..”take your son, your only child Isaac whom you love..go to the land of Moriah ..there you shall offer him as a burnt offering” & 10days into Lent, what do you fear God is asking of you?
..how does our God grade us in way we have faced covid so far?..well listen to this.. “..because you have done this, I will shower blessings on you..” ; Lord have mercy “..I will make your descendants as many as the grains of sand on the seashore..” ; Christ have mercy “..all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..over last few months in covid crisis we have become used to reading/graphs statistics as the UK tracks & traces its progress through the pandemic..”until we are led to the limits of our own resources, we do not know what our Real Resource is”..quotation in story I read of Abraham..weaving it into our two threaded readings at Mass..common theme in 1st rdg & Gospel..in 1st rdg Abraham was led by God to a mountain, in gospel Peter James John led by Jesus up mountain to meet God..in last 12months what a mountain we have been led to climb “led to the limits of our own resources” if someone had told us what we were to face, we would have called it mission impossible..in it we have found, & been found by, our Real Resource..the presence influence protection faith conviction of the divine, as Abraham found stage after stage in his own life..his life graph like hospital admissions of spikes & troughs..as Our Lord & his disciples were to find in their 3yr ministry..as you & I are finding in our lifetime of ministry..& now in our 40days of our Lenten Journey..a title for Lent I learned from Fr Donal O’Leary “a time to fall in love again with God”..to put our two readings into context, share with you a spiritual graph I learned from Carl Jung..explains our life journey in 3stages..first stage, ascending stage; 0-35 age of innocence..when innocence & idealism, earnestness & achievement, confidence & self-assurance inspire us..a time we dream dreams & rely on a mentor..the journey of hero..if we never begin we remain angry; if we never step off at age 35 we become foolish, fooling ourself, we never grow up..graph ascends..next stage turning stage; 35-50 age of disappointment; we begin to experience failure & the emptiness of success, we taste limits frailty mortality; mid-life crisis, confused by different goals & expectations..of others of me & me of myself..if we don’t move on beyond this stage we become embittered sour..elder son in story of prodigal son..addicted to self “poor me”.. the journey of wanderer..graph levels out horizontally..final stage; over 50 descending stage..graph goes? down!..a time of life when success & failure become blurred & less important..time of compassion & forgiveness, when we are guided at last by our own expectations, no longer great & empty, but real & achievable..it is a time of life “when doubt is honoured as much as faith” this stage is called the age of wisdom..the story of Abraham finds him on edge of the age of wisdom..his doubts over God’s ultimate call to sacrifice his only son, honoured balanced by his depth of faith “until we are led to the limits of our own resources, we do not know what our Real Resource is” the real resource the presence of Holy Spirit which makes the impossible possible..interestingly editor 1st rdg left out young Isaacs innocent questioning of what is going on “Father, look, here are the fire & the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” relying on his mentor his father..& Abraham, on edge of leaving age of disappointment, confused by different expectations, his own & those of his God, bound his son, put him on top of wood, “& seized the knife to kill his son” & God relents “do not harm him, know I know you fear God” & Abraham steps faithfully into age of wisdom..& in gospel Peter James & John, three rookie disciples led up mountain by a rookie master aged 33..for all four the age of innocence..”Lord it is wonderful for us to be here” three tents for rookie master & two wise elders, Moses & Elijah..& as the cloud descends they lose direction..disorientated.. until voice..the voice God himself divine wisdom descends “this is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him”..a descending stage..& they came down the mountain somewhat wiser..yet still too young to spill the beans..they had as yet to experience individually & collectively the fullness of the age of disappointment..Peter denying Jesus three times..James & John asking for best seats in kingdom..Jesus yet to experience Gethsemane & its temptation to self-pity & desolation..two stories become three as, in this moment of transfiguration for each of us here now, we realise our Lent is a journey of three stages..13days each..our journey of innocence as graph rises as we work & pray idealistically resolutely willingly to pray fast & work for others after this extraordinary year where when the current spike reached its peak & the NHS was about to be overwhelmed, & we discovered what “our Real Resouce is” who our real resource is..on Tuesday, 13days after Ash Wednesday, we will be invited to move from the age of innocence into the age of disappointment..will it be self-disappointment?..certainly, when we track & trace our feeble & fickle Lent thus far..& yet still & always comes the gentle voice of compassion & forgiveness, when in another 13days we will be welcomed into the final stage, the age of wisdom, when at last we will realise that the weave of doubt & faith bring us into the real presence of the divine & he self-discloses & we self-refer “this” you ..”my beloved son” & daughter, “listen to” them..& in Mattthew’s account of same story God says “he” he/she/we “enjoy my favour”..are we blessed or are we blessed?..thanks be to God we have, here & now among us, some innocents, some wanderers, & some wise elderlies..a Lent not to be endured but to be enjoyed..doubtfully & faithfully! [2ndSunLent YrB Mk 9;2-10]