The Lord gives us strength for all things

MARCH 8, 2020  SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT (Lec. 25)     

1)         Genesis 12:1-4a

2)         2 Timothy 1:8b-10

3)         Matthew 17:1-9 Gospel related: CCC 444, 554

FOCUS: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.

These words from Saint Paul to Timothy in today’s reading are a wonderfully encouraging summary of the Christian life. First, the Gospel is something we all share. While God calls each one of us to himself, and we each have a responsibility to respond in faith, we are not a group of discrete individuals, alone in our journey. Instead, we are baptized into a community, whose communal presence forms the Church. We celebrate together, worship together, pray together and for one another, and we literally grow the kingdom of heaven here on earth by loving one another as God loves us.

Second, there will be hardship in this life. While that is not news to us, Paul’s words remind us that, as we share in the good news of the Gospel, we also share in the inevitable hardship that arises in being faithful to Christ’s message and our call to holiness. Whatever the hardship is, we are called to share with one another. Sharing provides strength in numbers, and makes burdens easier to bear. And bearing one another’s burdens is another command of the Gospel (Cf., Galatians 6:2). This is why we pray for one another, or offer material or financial assistance to one another. It’s why we celebrate baptism, but also attend each other’s funerals.

It is also why the sacrament of penance is more than “just” confessing our individual sins, and receiving absolution from God. The sacrament restores our relationship to the greater Catholic community which has (even in unseen ways) been broken. Just as every part of the human body is important and must be in perfect order for the body to function at its best, so every person of Christ’s body is important and must be reconciled to the whole with forgiveness and grace in order for his body, the Church, to be at its best for the world.

Finally, we do all things fortified by the strength of God. God never abandons us, never leaves us to face things on our own. We can choose not to ask him for help; we can choose to ignore his commands or to cooperate with his grace. But God never withholds that grace when asked. Never withholds his strength. If we ever feel far away from God, we can be sure that it is we who have moved, not him.

When Jesus took his disciples – James, John and Peter – up the mountain and was transfigured before them, they had a glimpse of the glorified future that awaits all who are faithful to the Gospel. We who celebrate this liturgy today also have a glimpse of that glorified future, as we literally and metaphysically share in the heavenly banquet with the communion of saints. So, as we strive in holiness to join them, in the fullness of time, may we take to heart the good news and encouraging words of Paul, sharing in the promise of God and knowing that the Lord gives us strength for all things.