Seeds for Sowing, Vol. IV - Issue 3, No. 17
Second Sunday of Lent (Year B)
March 19, 2000
* Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18
* Romans 8:31-35, 37
* Mark 9:2-10
A Changed Perspective
The Difficulties of Living
Life is difficult. Not many people would deny that statement. It’s not easy to live month after month, year after year without running into many very difficult situations--sickness, unemployment, relationship difficulties, feelings of personal inadequacy, separation, death. Often we feel overwhelmed by the many troubles that keep finding their way into our lives. If the load gets too heavy, many people crumble and fall. Some people experience physical breakdowns. Others even lose their sanity.
Life’s troubles have always been part of humanity and always will be. Believing in God doesn’t take away any of those problems nor does it make the emotional and physical pain disappear. But believing in God does make a significant difference in the bigger picture. Our faith gives perspective to the troubles that we all experience.
Perhaps this is what Jesus was doing when he invited Peter, James and John to a high mountain. "And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them". Jesus allowed them to see his glory as the Son of God. He gave them the gift of a divine perspective. And so now they possessed a remarkable picture of their saviour--a picture in their minds that they could call on when suffering and doubt arose. When others saw Jesus being tortured and crucified, many thought they were just seeing another criminal brought to justice, but Peter, James and John had a very different picture of Jesus.
Their way of seeing Jesus was changed because of their experience on the mountaintop. Do you and I have a similar kind of mountaintop experience? Is there something that has happened to us that has changed the way we look at life?
Please listen to this simple story. Mary had grown up knowing that she was different from the other kids, and she hated it. She was born with a cleft palate and had to bear the jokes and stares of cruel children who teased her non-stop about her misshapen lip, crooked nose, and garbled speech. With all the teasing, Mary grew up hating the fact that she was "different". She was convinced that no one, outside her family, could ever love her...until she entered Mrs. Leonard’s class.
Mrs. Leonard had a warm smile, a round face, and shiny brown hair. While everyone in her class liked her, Mary came to love Mrs. Leonard. In the 1950’s, it was common for teachers to give their children an annual hearing test. However, in Mary’s case, in addition to her cleft palate, she was barely able to hear out of one ear. Determined not to let the other children have another "difference" to point out, she would cheat on the test each year. The "whisper test" was given by having a child walk to the classroom door, turn sideways, close one ear with a finger, and then repeat something which the teacher whispered.
Mary turned her bad ear towards her teacher, but only pretended to cover her good ear. She knew that teachers would often say things like, "The sky is blue," or "What colour are your shoes?" But not on that day. When the "Whisper test" came, Mary heard the words: "I wish you were my little girl." From that day forward Mary saw herself in a completely different light. She was no longer just a handicapped and ridiculed child. She was loved and wanted, and that made all the difference.
Our Mountaintop Experience - Faith
I suggest to you that our mountaintop experience is the gift that God has given to each of us--the gift of faith. Our belief in God, and in who God is for us, is the background against which we are asked to live our life.
In today’s readings from Romans, we have St. Paul’s remarkable words that clearly witness to who God is for us. Overwhelmingly, God is a God who is on our side. "If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?...Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."
When Mary heard the teacher say to her, "I wish you were my little girl", nothing physical changed. Mary still had a cleft palate, her lip was still misshapen, she was still deaf in one ear. But what did change was the world that she lived in. It was no longer just a hostile and unfriendly place to live.
Preparing for Easter
Our Lenten season is not just a time to lament how awful we are--what terrible sinners we have become. It is primarily a time of preparation for Easter. Part of our repentence is changing the way we look at all of our life--it is re-establishing the faith perspective that was given to us through our Baptism.
Is it possible for each of us to look at our difficulties in a new way? During this coming week, take some time in prayer to consider the most serious struggles we are facing at this present time in our lives. Look at these difficulties squarely in the face. Then bring them in prayer to the God who is always on your side. Bring them to Jesus Christ who wants to be there for you. Allow him to be there with you as you carry your burdens. Yes, even allow him to carry them with you and for you.
May we all be grateful for the gift of trust in a God who loves us, who has always loved us, and who will always loves us no matter what.