With us along the way

    February 25, 2024

    Is anyone else struggling with the readings for today? I don’t think you have to be a parent to balk at the image of Abraham offering up his only son. We know that this prefigures God’s own willingness to offer His only Son for our sake. And yet….

    Paul’s letter to the early church in Rome takes this idea to another level: because of this sacrifice — the offering in love of the most precious person in His own Son — then we, God’s own people, should consider ourselves secure and firm in God’s care for us.

    Then in Mark’s Gospel, the wonder of the transfiguration is followed by Jesus telling the witnesses to keep silent about the most amazing thing they’ve perhaps ever seen. After revisiting these readings and sitting with them, I confess that I don’t know what to make of them. We are meant to understand that God asks much of us (Genesis), in return for which obedience God will care for our needs (Romans). And when Jesus among us reveals to us in dazzling ways who He really is, we are to hold it in our hearts (Mark).

    Perhaps we at our Catholic Charities vocations can appreciate the readings in this way: God asks us to offer much of ourselves, our all-too-human hearts, as we encounter the least, last and lost among us. This offering is not insignificant. It will cost us. More and more, I think, we understand this cost. God also assures us, in the midst of this offering and cost, that He is very much with us. So, let our tender hearts be held close. And finally, Jesus tells us that we will see wonders. And tells us to not remain “stuck” on the mountain, but to keep focused and be about the work at hand. The transfiguration was not the end of the story that day. Encounters with the divine never are. Neither will we fully understand everything we encounter in those moments, at least not for a while.

    In our Lenten walk, may we learn to live with the peak-but-not-final encounters. God is surely with us along the way.

    Scott Cooper is Vice President of Mission for Catholic Charities Eastern Washington and a member of the Parish Social Ministry Leadership Team.

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