2nd Sunday of Lent B
March 2, 2015
THE BEST, EVEN FROM THE WORST!
Being tested beyond one’s capacity to endure is all I can think of when I read the ordeal of Abraham (and Isaac!). God asked for the worst any human being can ever think of … the life of his one and only son, and through a cruel, painful death at that … from his own hands, no less!
In our times, I feel like many of us (and most of my readers!) are being tested to the core … and to the limits. We read and hear about beheadings, burnings, and being buried alive. We hear almost to the day all about dishonesties and insincerities of politicians who always talk of the good of their constituents but whose behavior belies everything they utter. We also have faint, but almost morally certain suspicions that big businesses are nothing more than partners in crime of these same individuals who love to be called “honorable.”
Things seem to go from bad to worse and there seems to be no stopping the evil that has taken so deep roots in our culture. Everywhere. At all times. In every situation imaginable. For everyone.
I just had the fortune of reading an untold story about people whose planes from across the Atlantic en route to the USA (totaling about 52) had to be diverted to Gander airport in Newfoundland in 2001 (9/11) during the terrorist attacks. For the more than 10,000 of them who were welcomed by the locals who were even less than their unexpected guests, it was the worst that could ever happen, when all they wanted to do was to get home soonest, safest, and sanest.
But the worst brought out the best from everyone. One person did the unimaginable. In gratitude, he announced he was starting to collect funds for scholarships for the people of Lewisporte who welcomed them warmly and treated them nicely. Right then and there, he collected more than 14,000 dollars from the grateful passengers. As of writing, the funds now went over 1.5 million dollars!
Abraham’s plight was not easy, by any standard. And it was definitely not a walk in the park, too, for the confused boy, Isaac.
But there was something more than confusion and terror and suffering and everything negative that one could think of in the mind and heart of Abraham. It was definitely bitter medicine that was hard to swallow. But heroes and genuine leaders are made of sterner stuff than most, and the God who demanded so much was a God who offered so much to the obedient Abraham. He was granted faith. He savored his faith and built everything on the foundation of faith.
He was more than ready and willing to do the unthinkable. On account of faith. Because of his faith. On the basis of faith!
I am convicted today. For I have so little faith. I am disturbed, even angry that heartless politicians rule the roost in my society. I am disturbed and angry that the electoral process has been hijacked for years by an automated system that seems to guarantee the dictatorship of parties, not the people. I am aghast and terrorized by the possibility that power no longer emanates from the people, but from people with self-centered agenda, and from parties who hoodwink the masses, with a lot of help from conscript media, owned by big businesses whose hold on power is guaranteed by the very same media outfits they own, propped by the institutions like the armed forces who are party to the same intricate system of corruption from top to bottom.
I am shamed, apart from being convicted. I am shamed by my little faith. And in my shame, I now feel compelled to at least find it in my heart to reflect on God’s soothing words: “Do not lay your hand on the boy. Do not do the least harm to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
Today, second Sunday in the season of Lent, I beg the Lord to continue shaming me. I beg the Lord to go on convicting me. I beg the Lord to keep on disturbing me, and to pursue the patient task of whispering to me and prodding me: “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.”
The worst seems to have come upon me and us. There seems to be no way out of the systematic corruption impasse. There seems to be no solution to all the evil that seems to overtake everyone everywhere.
But I am not powerless. I am not hopeless. And the Lord reminds us all of this today. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
The Lord today took Peter, James and John for them to see, first hand. What they saw is what we, in fear, anger and hopelessness don’t want to see – the transfiguration that was his, and the transfiguration that is also ours to have and share! “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”