2nd Sunday of Lent - Called Out of Comfort

This weekend Fr. Steve addressed how Jesus often calls us out of our own comfortable places to do the work of his kingdom. We may not feel worthy or ready, but God still calls us. Often this means change or conversion in our own lives ultimately leading us to give our lives completely over to the living God. This can be challenging but the Lord invites us to take up our cross with him on our journey of faith.
God has called us to a holy life: so says the Letter of Paul to Timothy. And Jesus reveals that call to us - we heard in it the Gospel from the clouds at the mount of the transfiguration: "This is my beloved Son ...... listen to him." But what are we called to? What happens if we really listen to Jesus? He invites us on a journey with him. A journey of conversion - change - metanoia.
This call is nothing new. God called people thousands of years ago. And God often calls us out of our own comfortable lives. Look at Abraham. At the age of 75, one has pretty well seen the landscape. It is time to sit back, enjoy the scenery and relax. But God calls Abraham – out of a family that served other gods. And Abraham responds to God’s call. But it doesn’t end with his initial response. Abraham’s faith was purified and strengthened by trial. God tried Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, the one on whom God’s promise rested. Of course, at the time of the sacrifice God provided a ram in the thicket. God’s plan was not directed towards death but towards life. Abraham became the father of the multitudes. He became a blessing for others: we are not on this earth just for ourselves. We are about something much bigger!
God calls us even when we may be inadequate and weak – look at Peter, our first pope. What transpired right before the ascent of the mountain for the transfiguration? Let us look at this text in its Scriptural context. ***READ MT 16:13-28*** Then, they ascend the mountain and Jesus is clothed in glory with Moses, the giver of the Law, and Elijah, the greatest of the prophets at his side. They clearly see Jesus as the Son of God. The skies open another time and God speaks: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. LISTEN TO HIM! Then they go down the mountain, and Jesus tells them once again that he must suffer at the hands of others. Whether we want to believe it or not, this is fundamental to our faith as committed Catholics, as disciples of Jesus. Many people want the glory but it comes through the cross – through a life given for others. It was through the cross that Jesus came to the resurrection. It was through sacrifice that Jesus came to glory. Jesus tells us in so many words that to be acknowledged as the Son of God, Jesus must first be viewed as the suffering son of man. This is important. Jesus first gave his life to others: his body was broken and his blood poured out even to the point of Calvary, the crucifixion. Then comes the resurrection. Is it any wonder that the cross is central to our lives as committed Catholics, as committed disciples of Jesus?
Peter was in the remedial disciple class. It took him a while to get it. But he learned. Just as Jesus, he learned to give his life for others opening himself to pain and frustration. Peter eventually learned to give his life completely to God and others even to the point of his own death on the cross.
Husbands and wives who commit to journey through life in a spirit of love faithful in living out their marriage vows, know very well this journey of Jesus. Parents open to the gift of life, who see their children as gifts from God, are on the journey. Workers, who in spite of frustrations and difficulties, see their work as a way to serve others and God, know very well this journey of Jesus. Those who care for the sick and the dying with loving hearts and generous spirits, have moved from Nazareth to Calvary. Those who teach our children and our youth know this journey of Jesus. We have many people in our parish on this journey, but I cannot help but think of a woman I buried in Wolf Point, Nora Moran. Nora had been fighting diabetes and kidney problems for years. Both of her legs had been amputated just below the hips. Her arms were often bruised and swollen. One would think a person in that situation with almost everything stripped away would be self absorbed. Yet, Nora’s spirit was strong. When I came to visit her she could get outside of herself and say, “I have been thinking about you, praying for you. How are you doing? How are things in the parish?” Even with all of her pain and suffering, it was not about Nora. She moved from Nazareth to Calvary. She knew the journey of Jesus.
Eucharist challenges us as the Body of Christ not only to be nourished and strengthened by Christ’s body and blood, but maybe most importantly to nourish and offer others Christ’s body and blood through the actions of our very lives. God has called us out of our comfortable places. Are you accepting the call?