The first reading (Genesis 12:1-4) for this Sunday’s Mass tells us that for nearly two thousand years before the coming of Christ, God’s saving plan was already well in motion. A man named Abram (later to be renamed Abraham) would father the people into which Christ would be born. His descendants would be a selected group – a ‘Chosen people’, the ‘People of God’ They would be guided by God’s prophets, and blessed with favours and gradually prepared to receive Christ into their midst. What makes Abraham such a memorable and inspirational figure in the record of sacred history is that he believed and trusted God with all his heart. Without wavering, without even a glance behind him, Abraham took God at His word and set out for the Land of Promise. Essentially it was embarking on a journey with an unknown destination, trusting God to guide him. With the coming of Christ, we know that the Promised Land is not just a worldly real estate, but the Kingdom of God as in attaining full union with Him.
We, as a people of faith, as the People of God of the New Covenant, must look to Abraham as a great inspirational figure. There will be times in our journey of life when the way seems dark and uncertain. There may be times we feel abandoned, and there may be times when we go through what St John of the Cross famously penned in his poem, the ‘Dark Night of Soul”. The lesson of Abraham, and many holy people after him, teaches us that only a complete and trusting faith in God can lead us safely to Promised Land, as it led Abraham and His people.
Perhaps Our Lenten preparation should include embracing the faith and trust Abraham displayed. It is not easy though, living in a time when the norm is to seek ‘instant gratification’, and ‘instant result’ in many of our endeavours. Perhaps this is where the Gospel offers us hope. The Gospel (Matt 17:1-9 on the Transfiguration) for this Sunday dove-tails nicely with the First Reading. The passage gives us a glimpse of the life of the world to come. The episode must have strengthened Peter, James and John when the darkness of the cross eventually arrived, for if they had remembered the Transfiguration, they would know that beyond the darkness there would be light.
Lent is a good time to cultivate a trusting faith in God as we journey along and to let His Light guide us. When things get tough, we must look to the glory of the life to come to strengthen us in our resolve.
God’s blessings, Fr Michael