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Second Sunday of Lent Reflection

Barbara McGrattan, Associate from Hayesville, NC

In Genesis 22, the first reading, Abraham is called upon to sacrifice what is most precious to him, Isaac.  Abraham is tested to see how far he will go to keep his covenant with God. Take some time to reflect on who or what you have sacrificed in your past to keep your covenant with God. Recently for me, it was staying in a marriage where my husband did not share the spiritual journey with me in order to keep my family together and to honor our marriage covenant. What about now? Who or what keeps you from that divine union where nothing else matters? I ask myself, am I afraid to leave the comfort of friends to journey to the unknown? Am I too comfortable to risk setting out on my own with no clear path forward? Is my parish family one I am called to leave behind to find my current calling, but where I can also be fed?

Ignatian spirituality and our natural seasons, which is now winter, call us to rest and to wait until God speaks. Is God speaking now through family, friends, or experiences? In the spiritual life we are either growing or we are decaying. If you see growth, go with it, but if you see decay, pay attention! As Romans 8 today says, we will not be spared what our Lord himself had to undergo, especially the pain of rejection from his closest and most intimate friends.

In reading the Gospel of the Transfiguration, my thoughts immediately went to the institutional church. Pope Francis is setting a path forward for the faithful to see through the eyes of the poor in order to become a “transfigured church!” Pope Francis is calling for a radical (at the “root”) transformation and transfiguration of the church. He calls on all pastors and bishops to be shepherds and leaders. The days of “pay, pray and obey” are long gone. The world and society are very different and the church needs to speak a message that resonates with the world as it is right here, right now. It means new models of parish leadership, where clergy and laity take ownership of their parish community and make ministry a collaborative effort. As newly installed Bishop Coyne of Burlington, VT put it, “It is not enough to just open our doors. Our doors ARE open, but people are not coming; in fact, they are leaving.” The people in the pews are giving of themselves in many ministries and we need good leaders and shepherds at the local and diocesan levels to help and support them.  If we are not a transformative and transfigured church, people get discouraged, they stop contributing financially, and sometimes they eventually leave.

What does our faith call us to do? As for me, I cannot sit by and watch and just wait for something to happen. Once again, I pray for the courage to go beyond my comfort zone and to keep the dream alive of a transfigured church and a transfigured humanity. Think about where you are summoned to make a difference in the transfiguration of yourself, your family, your neighborhood, your workplace or your faith community. We all need other avenues of support to keep us alive and encouraged and the CND connection is one of those means for me, along with spiritual direction and online homilies by gifted folks. Lent invites us to break down the structures that no longer serve us or others and to find other mechanisms that can fill the void until change occurs and is felt in the trenches. Will you approach Lent with a determination to co-create with God and to transform the brokenness of yourself, your church, and humanity itself?

 

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