Sunday, 16 March 2014

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A, Shaftesbury

Gen 12:1-4; Mt 17:1-9
One of the seminarians asked me recently how Lent was going, and instead of saying, "Fine, thank you", I actually told him! I said it's been a tough Lent. To which he replied that that was a shame, because we are only just past the first week, with five more weeks to go!
And I AM struggling: That giving up sugar in my tea, that giving up the slice of cake that would have kept it company, that manifestly palatable red wine with the luncheon of the clergy gathering on Tuesday -and I won't even mention the chocolate mouse that someone considerately thought to provide at the end of it.
So the seminarian offered to console me with a nightcap of whiskey -but I'd taken that off the agenda too!

So, I was glad to recall the readings the Church gives us for this Sunday, to HELP keep us going.
The readings speak to us of a FUTURE glory to spur us onwards.

In our Gospel text we heard how Peter, James, and John were given a sight of The Lord Jesus transfigured on the mountaintop. They saw Him in glory. They saw Him, in a glimpse at least, saw Him as He would look in heaven.
That is the vision that is supposed to sustain all Christians. Sustain as we carry our crosses through life. Sustain as we bear our penance a through Lent.
And our opening prayer referring to how EVEN NOW we see this glory with the “spiritual sight” of faith,
The spiritual sight that comes by HEARING, that comes by accepting the testimony of those witnesses who saw it, just as the voice from heaven had similarly said to them: "listen to Him"(Mt 17:5)

There is a problem, however, with this ‘seeing’, and it’s a problem that comes back to my attachment to my earthly pleasures, all those things I’ve given up for Lent:
My attachment to these EARTHLY things stops me seeing clearly the HEAVENLY things,
The earthly attachment CLOUDS my vision.
Part of the reason I need to give up some earthly pleasures in Lent is to help me grow in detachment, is to remind myself that the REAL destination I am heading for is BEYOND this world, and if my heart is only set on pleasures here below then I'll fail to properly orient myself to get to that goal.
“Detachment” from this world, so the saints all tell us, is essential for attachment to the future world, to God.

In our first reading we heard how Abraham was called to leave the country he lived in, the only country he knew, and head off for a new land that God promised him, a land he knew nothing about.
I have to leave my chocolate, and snacks, and alcohol, and sugar, if I am to get to something better.
In fact, I have to leave them if I am to even SEE that land spiritually, let alone if I am to get there.
I, at least, have to leave them aside for Lent, and so help by heart get free for those better things.

To sum up, there is a cyclical thing going on here:
I am given a vision of future glory to help keep me going through my Lenten penance;
And yet,
I need to keep up my Lenten penance in order to see more clearly that vision that leads me on.

So, if you’re struggling too:
Remember the vision of future glory, that makes it worth fasting, makes it worth ‘giving things up for Lent’;
And remember that giving those things up will help free you inwardly to see better the glory that lies ahead.

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