Faith · Religious life · spirituaility

February 25th – From fear to love

Scripture Reflection . . .

Second Sunday of Lent

First Reading: Genesis 22: 1-18

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116 “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.”

Second Reading: Romans 8:31-34

Gospel: Mark 9:2-10

The very first words in the scriptures for today read, “God put Abraham to the test.” While this makes me inwardly cringe, how often we think that God caused something to go wrong in our lives to test us or make us stronger. Maybe a certain natural disaster came about because something we did as a society upset God.

But how do we reconcile a loving and merciful God with one who tests or punishes?

The Gospel today depicts the transfiguration – an experience in which the divinity of Jesus is made visible to his closest apostles. A moment in which God declares that Jesus is his beloved son – “Listen to him.”

Could it be that Abraham thought he was doing God’s will in attempting to sacrifice his only son? As horrifying a thought it is, child sacrifice was a common practice in ancient religions and could have been adopted or carried over into the Jewish religion.  The beauty is that God remained present with Abraham during this heart wrenching ordeal and perhaps something deep inside Abraham finally listened and heard and understood that God’s ways are different. In a moment there was a transfiguration from the old rituals that were not of God to a deeper belief in a God of life, of creation, of love – not a god that needs to be appeased through sacrifice and fear.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” asks St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans. If we have a God who is for us and who will do anything to save us, even give his very life so that we can live, why would we keep doing things out of fear and guilt? Why would we keep offering sacrifice when the ultimate Sacrifice has already been offered? Why wouldn’t we be people living in gratitude and joy? What  was lost has been found: what was dead had been brought to life – Transfiguration!

Again we return to the depiction of the transfiguration in the Gospel of Mark and God’s direction, “Listen to him.” Jesus became one with us to reveal the nature of God. When you struggle with the events of life and your faith wavers, listen to Jesus. What do his words and actions in the Scriptures say to you. What do the responses of those who follow him or receive his love and mercy say to you?

Our lives may not be transformed in an instant but over a life of daily listening and conversion we will one day experience a transfiguration into the glory of God – an experience of unconditional love. Just keep listening to the voice of love rather than fear.

In Our Lives as Sisters of The Redeemer . . .

We believe we are called to be a healing presence in the world today. Presence requires deep listening to the other. Moments of listening this week:

One of our Sisters has participated in a couple of Busy Persons retreats at local universities recently. Meeting with students in the midst of their busy day-to-day lives requires deep listening. In the act of speaking to someone who listens attentively one’s thoughts are clarified and deepest desires can rise to the surface.

Another Sister recently began what we call a “Ministry of Presence.” She visits individuals who have recently moved into one of our skilled nursing facilities. She has shared that listening and learning what and when to share is an experience that takes time and practice.

The beatification process of our Foundress is now complete and only awaits the final approval of the Pope. As part of the process, all the Sisters in the congregations founded by Mother Alphonse Maria Eppinger have been asked to reflect upon the Charism entrusted us  through our Foundress. Our responses require deep listening to the Spirit and the effect of the Charism in our lives.

Mother Alphonse Maria Eppinger, Founder of the Sisters of the Redeemer

We also said farewell to a couple from Haiti who have been among us since October. They were able to receive medical care here when her pregnancy  became high risk and their twins were born prematurely. Now they return home with healthy babies. In our listening to them our love for them and our understanding of their story and culture has deepened.

Listening truly leads to transfiguration.

In Your Life . . .

Listening is a profound spiritual practice. And is can be difficult but so transformative.

This week try listening with a deeper awareness.

Listen to what is going on outside of you. Listen to the sounds, the stillness; practice deep listening to the people you encounter. What do you hear?

Listen to what is going on inside of you – fears, hopes, gratitude, love, sorrow, etc.  what do you hear?

Listen to God. Be still, trust the promptings that arise. God knows about the people in your life, the sounds and noises around you; God knows your thoughts and emotions.  What do you hear?

Leave any struggles and fears behind and let the light and love of God enfold you. You are God’s beloved, keep listening.

Blessings on your week!