Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
All of the readings for today have a common theme of faith: God’s faithfulness to us and our response.
This psalm actually begins in lament with the familiar: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Then, it moves to today’s portion, which includes praise, worship, and finally a proclamation of deliverance for all God has done. Although this psalm begins with a broken and suffering heart, it becomes clear that the psalmist turns toward the promises of God and gives his life over to the care of God. His experiences lead him to the very heart of a loving God who journeys with him and has heard the cries of the afflicted. During Lent, we reflect on the very nature of God; the self-emptying, self-giving, eternally faithful and merciful God.
- Reflect on your personal faith journey. Can you think of a time in your life when you experienced a broken heart or a broken relationship; a low point? What happened? What was it like? Then ask yourself, did my despair turn to hope or did I stay “stuck”? How were you transformed by the experience?
When we go to the switch to turn a light on, we expect light. We expect the electric surge to be present. We cannot see electric surges. We only see the by-product, which is light or power. We just trust that the electric company fulfills the promise to provide us with electricity. Faith is similar. We cannot see faith, only its affects. Faith is trust that Jesus Christ fulfills God’s promises to us through grace; the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. It is about God’s faithfulness to us. Faith is trust in God’s grace. Trust always occurs first and then shapes our response. The Christian response to God’s faithfulness begins in worship and praise and goes out into the world to love and serve others.
- How has God blessed someone through you this week?
In this passage, Jesus predicts his suffering and Peter appears to want to take the path of denial. Peter loves his teacher. Possibly, Peter loves Jesus so much he does not want to let go of him. But then, Jesus rebukes Peter and the crowd and begins to teach about true discipleship: if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
When reflecting on this lesson, I recall a book I read several years ago concerning a young priest, Father Jim. Father Jim was diagnosed with cancer and he wanted to teach others how it is possible to have inner peace in suffering which brings us closer to the heart of Jesus. Inner peace is the truest form of which the manifestation of God dwells within us. He highlighted that the way in which all of us, at one time or another, suffer, often becomes the way in which we experience God’s blessing and new life. Father Jim recalls being filled with holy desire and human fear as he walked this journey and was reminded of the words of St. Ignatius: “Take, Lord, receive. All is yours now. Dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace – that’s enough for me. Your love and your grace are enough for me.”
Father Jim left us with a message of hope: “Because I had cancer, my life was truly the Lord’s to do with as he will. From that moment on, I knew only thing for certain: I do not know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.”
- Do you have any challenges confronting you today? What are they? Can you accept this challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow in your faith journey? What could you possibly learn from this experience that will help you grow closer to the heart of Jesus?
- Gracious God, Help us to trust that you never abandon us in our weakness. Lead us more fully into your presence through our prayer that we may know you and love you with all our hearts, minds, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen