Second Sunday of Lent 2021: Bulletin Art, Column

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Dear Followers of Jesus Christ,

Today’s gospel Mark 9:2-10, reveals the Transfiguration of Jesus to his disciples and to our lives now. I love this gospel and this moment, always on the Second Sunday of Lent, when Jesus pulls back the veil and lets his disciples in on a secret. Jesus wants to show the disciples that he has the Father’s authority in his ministry on earth. 

First of all, Jesus tugs at their sleeves and invites them with him high on a mountain by themselves. As we understand living in Colorado, just going higher up the mountain is itself a transfiguration. Elevation brings a greater perspective; we can see things differently with a view from a higher elevation. 

So, all of a sudden, his clothing becomes white, dazzling white as the gospel says. Elijah and Moses appear to them. The disciples are being totally overwhelmed with joy. They now have a sense of Jesus’ authority and they find themselves belonging in this incredible religious history. They tell Jesus how cool this moment really is and they want to build some tents there so they can hang out with the prophets from ages past. 

Then something greater happens. A voice from a cloud opens up in their ears and in their hearts. This voice says, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Wow. This must have been so spectacular to the disciples. We have lost just how marvelous this scene is on our Lenten journey. We can’t ignore this anymore. So, let’s push the pause button and dive more deeply into this moment with the disciples. 

Jesus desired to draw the disciples into the inner circle of love of the Trinity.  This is also where we are headed in this Lenten season if we take our faith seriously. Revealing the Trinity to the disciples opens the door to the authorityof Jesus to continue to his cross and ultimately to his resurrection. Our despair, our anxieties, our stubbornness, our hatred, and every aspect of our lives is being invited into the life of Jesus Christ. His authority heals us. We are also bearers of the mystery of the Trinity through our baptism. We are baptized, “In the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We must believe that Jesus has authority within us, within our human actions, to heal our sin and divisions. In other words, we are let in on a secret on this Second Sunday of Lent, along with the disciples, that if we, too, follow Jesus, he will lead us into a glorious relationship with the Holy Trinity.  

Jesus invites us to hear his voice and follow him.  One of the most important aspects of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is that we can listen to him still. The sacred Trinity resides within us through baptism. We find Jesus’ voice through the gift of the scriptures, especially within the gospels. We can listen to him lead us into places of love, into forgiveness, into his heart through the stories, parables, and images of these holy writings. We can also listen most carefully to the voice of Jesus Christ in our silence and in our self-giving in prayer. His voice leads us well beyond our ego. Our stubbornness is not the place where his voice comes through us. Our self-hatred and our hatred toward others is not where the voice of love enters our hearts. It is interesting that so often we resist such a silence in God because we can easily resist Him. Our egos our strong and we can be so hardened toward how he desires to be with us. Jesus took his disciples up a mountain so that they could hear for themselves the voice of the Father. Jesus claims his place within our lives through Easter and through our baptism. 

Jesus invites his disciples to go down the mountain and to get to work.  I believe Jesus in this moment was teaching the disciples to put love into practice. He was embracing his Father’s love for us in the world and showing us that in order to believe in Him, we must get to work lifting up the soreness of the world, the lack of encouragement to forgive one another. Love changes everything. The only problem is that most people think God only condemns them. I hear this all the time in my ministry. I hear such things as: I am not good enough or I am not worthy enough or I am not faithful enough or I am not pious enough or I am not holy enough. My prayer in this Lenten season is that all believers could put away these negative stories about their own lives and listen to the voice of Jesus leading us into the heart of the Father. The thoughts, the beliefs, the unworthiness of every believer is transfigured in love during this Lenten season. 

God give you peace. 

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor

First Sunday of Lent 2021: Bulletin Art, Column

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First Sunday of Lent 2021

Dear Followers of the Christ,

In today’s Mass, we read Mark 1:12-15. The first chapter of Mark dives right into the adult Jesus. He is baptized and sent into the desert to prepare for his three-year ministry. This gospel writer glosses over the birth narrative of Jesus and gets right into the nitty-gritty ministry that eventually leads Jesus to his death.

So, here we are in Lent again. Because of the pandemic, it seems we are still in Lent from last March 13, 2020 when we had to shut down everything in the parish and beyond. The desert days of Lent loom long and tedious, especially this year, because we still do not know when we can get a hug or see the laugh lines on our friends’ faces.

Jesus was tempted in the desert for forty days. Our society has been tempted in our rough, dry days of pandemic as well. We have faced job loss, racial divides and outrage, loss of careers, and faced obstacles to educate and raise our children. The wild beasts seem to have gotten the best of us this year. These past two Lenten seasons are unlike any Lent in a century.

However, we are still on the journey toward redemption and new life. We are called once again to repent of the weight that has accumulated upon our shoulders, that has wedged us into despair and hopelessness. Easter will bring rejoicing when we capture a glimpse of new life glowing from our family dinner tables, within school assemblies or at our local hospitals and nursing homes. Life still has meaning, we are still filled with hope, even when we are challenged to let go of our control and find God in every aspect of humanity.

We still have work to do in this Lenten season. We are not off the hook just because we are facing a pandemic. Afterall, the real purpose of Lent is to draw closer to Jesus Christ. There is still mercy, forgiveness and hope at the bottom of the well of our renewal of baptism. God is still inviting us to go deeper into our Christian commitments. God is still tugging on our sleeves to get our attention and to show us that he is the only one who can heal us. In these days of continuing isolation, we are still called to seek the unbelievable passion of Jesus Christ who calls our names and invites us to follow him to his cross, to his empty tomb.  

Christ Jesus desires to be at the center of our lives. This is the purpose of Lent. We fast in order to be hungry for God. We pray, to draw closer to the love God has for us. We give alms because we know that being pro-life means we help to lift up all aspects of human suffering. The desert of Lent is really an invitation to clear away the chaos, the emotional debris, the junk we cling to in life, in order to discover that our lives are being drawn ever so deeper into the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.

Christ Jesus desires to heal our past.  As we seek the Kingdom of God, we are drawn into the mercy of Christ Jesus. We do not earn such a gift. Many people stumble thinking that they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to look good in the eyes of God. This is genuine heresy.  We don’t save ourselves. Only God’s eternal love and mercy invites us closer to Him. This is the function of Lent when we can take our liturgy seriously in our lives.

Christ Jesus opens our path through tough times.  The Lenten season opens with Jesus being tested by evil in the desert for forty days. This is not just about the past, but Jesus is healing and redeeming all evil in the world and offering us the ability to journey with him. Jesus heals our rough relationships, sorts our angry and reveals to us that darkness does not win, no matter the issues that get us down. Lent explores the reality that Jesus is walking with us in the ruts of the desert we have created in our own lives. Jesus is our only hope.

Christ Jesus unites us in our common baptism.  The Lenten season came to be in the Church as adults were waiting to be baptized at Easter. Then, it became a time for all Christians to renew their commitment in Christ’s death and resurrection. Most Christians forget that what we have in common is baptism. This is our place of belonging in the church. This is the foundation of why we learn to reach out to those in need. Our ministry flows from the waters of new life, leading us on the same path of salvation. Renew your life in baptism, in His love for all people during this Lenten season.  Make sure the story of your baptism is told and why you want to live as a Christian in the first place.

Christ Jesus offers us justice and new life.  The path to Easter is essentially a path to human justice and love. New life is meant for all humanity. Christ speaks to us through our sorrows and into our redeemed and loving hearts. Life can change. Jesus heals our hurts and our grief. Jesus changes hearts. Paths open up for us as believers. We really can learn to become more kind, gentler with our neighbor. We can live not from our ego accomplishments, but the internal longing to listen to the voice of Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit leads us if we can simply entrust our stubbornness to God. All things matter in Jesus Christ.

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron