Today, I will start to post a dear friend’s Sunday Gospel reflections
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Week II, Year B
08 March 2009
Genesis 22:1-2.9a.10- 13,15-18 /// Romans 8:31b-34 /// Mark 9:2-10
Some people think that Lent is a sad season because of our contrition of sins, sacrifices, fasting and abstinence. Others believe that Lent is a season of sorrow because of the coming Passion and, forgetting the fact that He had risen on the third day!
Contrary to these impressions most people have about Lent with all its penitential tones like shades of violet as well as minimum decorations of the altar, it is actually a season of joy and celebration because it leads to Easter! Remember that the essence of Lent is to prepare candidates to baptism (catechumen) ; hence, there is that joyful anticipation of being wrapped in the newness of the Risen Jesus Christ.
As we journey in these 40 days towards Easter and ultimately to God, we get a glimpse of the future glory awaiting each one of us not only in eternity but even in this very life we lead here on earth. That is why, every Second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel account is always about the Transfiguration wherein Jesus showed some of His apostles a glimpse of His coming glory. And we can experience this Transfiguration of Jesus Christ in us through praying.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain apart by themselves. And He was transfigured before them… (Mk.9:2)
In the Bible, the mountain is a favorite site for praying, of being near and one with God. Thewhile on Mt. Tabor tells us some important things about prayer.
First, prayer is being one with God; a response on our part to Him Who has long been calling us to commune with Him. To pray is already a pure grace, a blessing wherein like Peter, James and John, God takes us apart from our daily routines and chores, apart from our work and worries, apart from all the people with their concerns that often burden us. When we pray, it is as if God is taking us away for a while with much needed rest and comfort from His loving arms.
Hence, when we pray, we don’t have to speak but simply listen. Jesus said the Father knows very well all our needs even before we ask Him. So, why worry at all and talk incessantly with our litanies of requests and petitions? It is said that the value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us but that we will finally listen to Him.
Immerse yourself in silence and just rest in the Father’s loving arms. Remember, our very act of praying is just a response to God’s initiative of conversing with us. Unknown to us, our most difficult prayer period could also be the most meritorious because that is when we have chosen to be with God than anybody else in a particular moment of our life.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.. (Mk.9:5-6)
Second, praying is not about feelings, especially of joy and even ecstasy; praying is not merely confined with the present moment nor with the past but also with the future because it is always forward-looking. A lot often during moments of spiritual highs like in a retreat or after a confession or counsellings, we feel like Peter, never wanting to go down from the mountain and just stay up there to savor the beautiful feelings of being one with God.
Praying is more than feeling light or shedding tears; it is about the convergence of our minds and hearts, of being whole in our very selves, of joyfully accepting who we are, of seeing our selves as seen by God despite our many sins and weaknesses. More than a feeling, praying is having a conviction deep inside us.
Last year during my annual retreat, my 80 year-old spiritual director, Fr. Bob Rice, SJ told me that the distractions we experience during prayers are not actually distractions but cues from God to fix something within us.
Try thinking all the distractions we get when praying: examine each one and most likely, they are issues within us which we have often refused to resolve or even face. Once we confront them and decide once and for all what we intend to do with these distractions, our prayers become more whole, more real because we are no longer concerned with our feelings that God might have not heard us but of how we would translate our prayers into actions and practice.
Remember, the mere fact we are praying is already a grace to be set apart by God; don’t worry if He had heard us but worry more how we would live out what He had told us. This is the reason the voice told the apostles “to listen to Him.”
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” (Mk.9:7)
Third, prayer according to my favorite spiritual writer, the late Fr. Henry Nouwen, is listening to the voice that calls us “my Beloved.”
Last Thursday, I brought our Third Year students from our Girls’ High School to a new cinema near our school as part of our class in values on film. I was hesitant to go on with our “movie date” when I learned that “Confessions of a Shopaholic” was showing instead of “Valkyrie” or “Doubt”, thinking it might be about vanities.
I was proven wrong, along with my 40 female students, because “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is actually a movie against vanities and teaches instead the values of family and friends, love, trust, forgiveness, change and growth! Although it is a comedy, “Confessions. .” is perfect for Lent as it shows the transformation or transfiguration to some extent of the main character named Rebecca, a shopaholic and heavily in debts.
In about two or three scenes while in a mall, Rebecca tried stopping her urge to shop but every time she would walk away from a bag or a dress, the mannequins displaying the goods would always speak to her, convince her and entice her to buy it so that she would look good and feel better.
I like those scenes because they speak so well of our time wherein so many voices are competing for our attention, telling us so many things so that we would be great and popular, strong and beautiful among other things. Like Rebecca, we have mistaken that we would become better persons if we acquire more and more goods when in fact, they actually leave us so empty inside.
In my experience since 1991 when I returned to the seminary to give my vocation a second try, I have realized that a lot often, the smallest, tiniest voice deep within us is the one always from God. And that voice tells us only one thing- that we are loved by Him.
When Christ was baptized, the same voice declared that “this is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” Now, the same voice of the Father identifies Jesus as “my Beloved Son.” The same holds true for each of us—a beloved child of God! That is our identity often destroyed by so many temptations to be popular, successful and powerful.
A lot often, the little voice within us that tells us the simplest things of saying sorry, of smiling at an enemy, of extending an arm for a handshake is God’s voice telling us how much He loves us despite our many sins and weaknesses.
As St. Paul had said in our second reading today, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom.8:31) God would never ask us to do anything that would harm us because He is for us, and most of all, He loves us so much that He gave us His only Son Jesus Christ. This was the conviction of Abraham in the first reading we have heard today. He never doubted God’s voice: even if he had heard God asking him to offer Isaac, Abraham obeyed because such was his conviction God would never will anything bad for him. He had felt, he had experienced, and he had always heard God telling him how much he is loved.
May we be able to listen to God’s voice within us, calling us His beloved children.
fr. nicanor f. lalog II
santissima trinidad parish
malolos city 3000
bulacan, philippines 3000