Opening the Word: Go forth and follow the Lord to the foot of the cross

By:

Comfort is quite natural to human beings. When we find ourselves in a location that we know, where we have enough food and drink, a place to lay our heads and friends close by, why leave? All of us, in the end, are basically like Tolkien’s hobbits, looking to enjoy the parochial comforts of hearth and home.

Such stability, of course, is not evil. Establishing roots in a place enables us to develop friendships, to live as creatures who depend on familiarity for our flourishing.

Yet, this stability can become a vice. It can manifest itself as complacency. We become complacent about where we live, our spouse, the gift of our children and our friendships. We grow comfortable in the spiritual life, happy to say our comfortable prayers, attend our comfortable parish, in our nice neighborhood, with a comfortable pancake breakfast after Mass once a month.

Catholicism is not especially compatible with a complacent comfort. We profess faith in the God who was born in a comfortless manger, who hungered and thirsted in the desert, who wandered from town to town preaching the kingdom of God, who spoke non-comforting words to those were religiously comfortable, who suffered death for the sake of men and women.

This God, the Word made flesh, was raised from the dead, never staying in one place. His ascension into heaven, at the right hand of the Father, means that his Church should also never get too comfortable. Our home is not St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Patrick’s in New York, or St. Pius X in Granger, Indiana. Our home is heaven itself, the beatific vision, where we will see God face-to-face.

For this reason, we Christians are always on pilgrimage. We’re like Abram, hearing the voice of God, telling us to leave everything behind, to move on to a land flowing with milk and honey.

The temptation to be too comfortable, to feel that we have arrived at our final destiny, may be seen in the transfiguration of our Lord on Mt. Tabor. The disciples see Jesus as he really is, as he will be when his flesh is transfigured in the fullness of divine love.

How fearfully comfortable this sight must have been to Peter, James and John. They want to set up tents, to dwell ever before the transfigured Jesus, alongside Moses and Elijah. They believe they have arrived.

And then the voice of the Father speaks. The transfigured one is the beloved Son of God, the one to whom we owe complete obedience. It is an obedience of love, a delight in the voice of the Son of God.

This is the voice that tells us to leave all things behind, to go forth to the very ends of the world preaching the kingdom of God to those who hunger and thirst for justice. It is the voice that cries out upon the cross, who tells Mary not to touch him for he is risen. It is the voice that ascends into heaven.

The Church needs to be a bit less comfortable in our listening to this voice. When we gather at Mass, we’re not just waiting to hear the words of a comfortable Gospel, confirming our lifestyle, promising us prosperity if only we believe. We’re hearing the living Word of God, requiring from us an obedient response of total, self-giving love.

Lent is a time for the Church to cease being comfortable. It’s time to leave behind our comfortable tents, to go forth and follow our Lord to the city of Jerusalem.

To follow him to the very foot of the cross.

March 8, 2020 – Second Sunday of Lent
Gn 12:1-4
Ps 33:4-5 18-19, 20, 22
2 Tm 1:8-10
Mt 17:1-9

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Opening the Word:

Friday, April 3, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley This year, there will be no public processions. This year, there will be no waving of palms in the parish vestibule. This... Read More

The importance of community in a time of isolation

Wednesday, April 1, 2020
By: Russell Shaw So much has been said and written about the novel coronavirus that if words could stem a pandemic, we would all long since... Read More

The sacrifices we make: What it means to be a Christian under lockdown

Monday, March 30, 2020
By: Leonard J. DeLorenzo The effectiveness of nations and states’ efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus depends on broad social... Read More

Opening the Word: The sweetness of love has overcome the foul stench of death

Friday, March 27, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. The evangelist, John, is not just providing a chance detail to the reader.... Read More

Without weekly collections, parishes facing financial stress amid the pandemic

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
By:  Brian Fraga Msgr. Charles Kosanke has told his parish staff that he can keep them employed full-time until April 6. After that, he has no... Read More

In times of crisis, the Church has a history of stepping up

Monday, March 23, 2020
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Fear of contagion is nothing new. Not that long ago, hardly back in the Dark Ages, the respected scientific opinion... Read More

Opening the Word: Sight and touch

Friday, March 20, 2020
By:  Timothy P. O'Malley As children, we learned about the five senses.  Sight is different from the sense of touch.  We see things,... Read More

With a miracle approved, beatification awaits computer programmer Carlo Acutis

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
By: Meg Hunter-Kilmer Venerable Carlo Acutis had a PlayStation. He made awkward videos with his friends. His favorite cartoon was... Read More

With a miracle approved, beatification awaits computer programmer Carlo Acutis

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
By: Meg Hunter-Kilmer Venerable Carlo Acutis had a PlayStation. He made awkward videos with his friends. His favorite cartoon was... Read More

Vatican homeless shelter continues long history of the Church’s charitable works

Monday, March 16, 2020
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Talk about a breath of fresh air. NPR spent some minutes reporting that Pope Francis had turned a one-time palace near... Read More