Updated: Mar 9, 2020
The love of Jesus for us was self-emptying that culminated in crucifixion. (Philippians 2:6-11) As a result, we learned that there is no Easter joy without Good Friday crucifixion. His love of self-denial brought the glorious salvation for us all!
Many moons ago, when I was attending a pre-seminary weekend in a Redemptorist convent at Mango Avenue, Cebu City, the Redemptorist priests and brothers introduced me to a beautiful song that says: “Such love is sacrifice that we share. The world cannot understand. It just too great to comprehend. What it is to suffer out of love!”
This song captures the very message of the Second Sunday of Lent. Embracing our sufferings and pains with genuine love of God and neighbors will lead to an encounter of God’s glory.
In the First Reading from the Book of Genesis, the call of Abram to give up his own land and security at 75 years of age and followed God’s direction to go to a place where he didn’t even know is an amazing example of self-denial for the love of God. He simply listened to God without looking at his own comfort and security but believed in the future glory based on God’s promise: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:3)
In the Second Reading, St. Paul reminds his fellow missionary Timothy about the pain and suffering that is required to preach the gospel. “Bearing the hardships that the Gospel entails” is an essential aspect of our life as disciples of Christ. It is the way to fulfill and enjoy the glory of God’s salvation the Lord offers us.
And, the Gospel's Transfiguration of Jesus before Peter, James, and John occurred with the primary purpose of strengthening their commitment and resolve when they were tired, heavily burdened, and devastated upon hearing from the Lord’s mouth that he would suffer and die. They were thinking of a political leader, not a suffering Messiah. But seeing the glorious Jesus as he transfigured before their very eyes has given them a foretaste of the greatest reward in faithfully following the Lord through thick and thin, even in the worst circumstances when pain and suffering in life abounds.
How can we best apply this great message of the Second Sunday of Lent in our life?
This past Christmas, a person showed up at SNCC and gave me a monetary gift for my personal use that made me cry. Having been through the worst realities of poverty growing up, I am always grateful to God for the homeless man who gave me my first chalice. I always consider the chalice as the most expensive possession I ever have as an ordained clergy, and it came from a homeless friend in Hawaii. But this man who showed up at church this Christmas broke the gift record in terms of value because I never received such amount in my life before. But when I thought that it was simply it, I was wrong because this man started texting me with more valuable gospel messages every single day.
This past week when I was down, tired, heavily burdened and devastated in dealing with human realities in my life, this man sent me this amazing message as if he knew what I was going through: “Make friends with the problems in your life. Though many things feel random and wrong, remember that I am sovereign over everything. The best way to befriend your problems is to thank Me for them. This simple act opens your mind to the possibility of benefits flowing from your difficulties.” I humbly responded his text message: “Beautiful. Make friends with the problems in my life. I just need to trust in Him. Amen."