Grace to you!
Reaching spiritual heights entails making tough choices. Getting to the height of any human endeavor for that matter doesn’t come by on the sofa of easy picks. Otherwise, hard work wouldn’t have any value and loafers would have a field day.
The best creativities are accomplished through perspiration, not inspiration. Inspiration opens our eyes to see. Perspiration, hard work, which is another way of saying sacrificing something, makes us reach the goal of what we’ve been inspired to see.
Sometimes in our faith life, we are divided between what we love the most and what God expects from us. Many times, our faith is challenged. Our ultimate loyalty is tested.
God made a promise to Abraham (Gen 12). He was inspired to see and hear. One of the promises, the most consoling as it may seem in the eyes of Abraham, was the birth of his son Isaac. Isaac was the son of divine promise.
But Abraham had to get to work through rigors of sacrificial choices before the ultimate promise, the perfection of his faith, would come to pass. Abraham was ready for the sacrifice it takes. He, willingly, was ready to offer back to God what God had given. He didn’t hold back anything. He was ready to give it away; not to waste, but to whom all glory belongs (Gen 22).
In this, Abraham became perfected in the graciousness of God the Father who gave His Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to be the sacrificial lamb of our redemption. Abraham was sharing a quality which belongs to God. He has become a special friend of God. Hence, his faith is perfected.
As the Church makes us understand, the story of Abraham and the test to sacrifice Isaac prefigures God the Father sending the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world for our salvation. It was a symbol of what God did for us in Christ. God’s love was evident as He didn’t spare His Son; instead He offered him for us all (Rm 8:32).
You know that saying: “If you love something, give it away.” Give it away so it thrives and reaches to many. Offer something, the time and sacrifices. God gives the best. God gives everything, including Himself, so we can, for instance, consume him at the Eucharist. Look around and see; all that God has given is the best from the fountain of life and blessings.
There is an assurance in the glory to come when we model our lives God’s way. When Jesus took Peter, James and John up to the mountain where he transfigured in their eyes (Mk 9:2-10), he wanted them to have a glimpse of what is to come. The coming glory reassures us that the way of the cross, sacrifices, perspiration and the trails that come because of one’s faith are not in vein. Glory is on the horizon.
In this second week of Lent, we offer something precious to God. We give something dear to us away for some cause, for someone, so the world will be a better place. We offer food and drink so the hungry could be fed. We offer our advice, wisdom and knowledge so the ignorant could be informed and the depressed would be encouraged.
We offer our prayers for those who need it the most. We offer our time and presence for that lonely and cold heart. We offer the warmth of our love so the unloved could feel the love of God. We offer little things, as well as those things so precious to us, simply because we know that it is in giving that we receive.
Praying that we sacrifice and accept the trials that come from the holy choices we make to follow the Lord with the courage and hope of glory. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Second Sunday of Lent B: Gen 22:1-2, 9A, 10-13, 15-18; Rm 8:31B-34; Mk 9:2-10]
Grace to you!
On this First Sunday of Lent, may we reflect on conversion through the lens of Divine Mercy.
If you’ve been following our reflections since Ash Wednesday, we had shared how the first part of Lent is a reminder of the need for conversion and ongoing conversion. I hope you know conversion isn’t a one-time thing.
If we are fairly self-aware, we may’ve noticed, more often than we could’ve desired, that some of our thoughts, behaviors and attitudes need the transforming grace of God. Sometimes, those things make us humble. Other times they scare us—reminding us that we are not as holy as we may’ve thought.
Once a gentle and devout man shared how he couldn’t believe he did what he did. He was so worked up in rage against a colleague that he spewed the most indecent vitriol ever—words that could’ve easily landed him in jail. What he did was completely out of whack, “not me” as he said.
There is no such thing as secured and locked-in virtue where we claim we can never falter. Only in heaven could such be found. Until then, we are daily reminded of the Gospel message of ongoing repentance.
But here is the better part. Underlying every divine discipline is incredible grace of divine mercy. God doesn’t let us hit a wall without showing, in His tenderness, the way of salvation. In every situation of human brokenness, the mercy of God is closest.
When Pope John Paul II wrote about the amazing reconciliation between God and us in his Dives in Misericordia, he was pointing us to the truth that amidst sin, the mercy of God already invites us to restoration. Permit me to quote an excerpt from the beautiful words of the pope to us:
“The Church professes and proclaims conversion. Conversion to God always consists in discovering his mercy, that is, in discovering that love which is patient and kind (cf. 1 Cor 13:4) as only the Creator and Father can be; the love to which the ‘God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Cor 1:3) is faithful to the uttermost consequences in the history of his covenant with man: even to the Cross and to the death and resurrection of the Son. Conversion to God is always the fruit of the ‘rediscovery’ of this Father, who is rich in mercy” (John Paul II, Dives in misericordia, 13).
I read the story of the covenant between God and Noah (Gn 9:8-15). I cannot but see that beyond the destruction of the flood, was the mercy of God who restores and offers a sign of the rainbow, as a symbolic reminder to generations that He forgives, shows mercy and restores.
We approach God this Lent with a positive disposition towards mercy. As the Gospel reminds us through the words of our Savior, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1;14-15).
In Christ is fulfilled what the covenant of peace and restoration, way back from Noah, anticipates.
It’s inspiring and exciting to hear these words from the first Letter of Saint Peter: “Beloved, Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God” (1 Pt 3:18).
This message of Saint Peter is also for you.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[First Sunday of Lent B: Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth and inspiration. They are designed for a general audience. They may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons.