Homily for 2nd Sunday of Lent

Posted on 8th March, 2023

2nd Sunday Lent

4th March 2023

We are already at the 2nd Sunday of Lent. We are what - at our 12th day of Lent. If we were on holiday somewhere, on a 2-week holiday, we would be packing up our bags to go home. But we are still at the beginning of Lent.

I wonder, though, if you are a bit like me and fail to take this opportunity of Lent seriously. When I look at our friends of the Muslim Faith, I admire them. For them, what to do in Lent – or Ramadan as they call it – is very clear. They have a set programme and they come together in faith to help each other practise it. They do more than just fast, even if they do fast in a spectacular way. Their Ramadan is also serious prayer, it is also alms giving, it is also sharing what they have with others who have nothing. It is also turning back to God. What is important for them is to do it all together, in the Muslim community. This strong community aspect of Ramadan is their strength.

Lent for us is like a journey; a journey in which we accompany Jesus on his way up to Jerusalem where he will be arrested, judged, condemned, left to hang naked on the cross, before all the multitude, in terrible, excruciating pain, and with the loneliness eating into his heart. And, where he will rise again before returning to his Father in heaven.

In today’s readings, we have mention of 2 journeys; that of Abraham, as he leaves his homeland in search of God and the promised land, and that of Jesus as he goes up to Jerusalem. The journey of Abraham is begun at the behest of God who calls him to set off for an unknown land and an unknown destiny. His only assurance is the Word of God and the promise that God will be with him always. If he completes his journey, God promises him, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” His reward, we might say, is similar to our great reward of the Kingdom of God.

The second journey is that of Jesus towards Jerusalem, which, as we read in the Gospel, he broke off for a moment to journey up a mountain where he came face to face with God. Mountains, in the bible are often places of theophany, of a meeting with God. Jesus, knowing where his journey was taking him, needed the reassurance of his Father that this journey to his suffering and death was truly the way. However, he also needed to reassure his Apostles too, those who were to be witnesses of what would happen in Jerusalem, that this was the way of God.

We know that both journeys were fraught with dangers and risks, with trials and failures. And yet, it is these journeys of Abraham and of Jesus that have led us to our own journeys of faith, those which we have been travelling and will continue to travel for the rest of our lives.

We travel this journey with companions, we are not alone. This is why we gather in the community that is the church. Often, we refer to the church with the title, “The Pilgrim People of God”; the People who are on God’s journey. Christ’s pilgrimage led him to Jerusalem. Our pilgrimage leads us to the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, where the will of God reigns. Don’t we say each time we pray the Lord’s prayer, “They Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. When the lord’s will is done in all things then we are in the Kingdom of God.

For now, we are on a journey towards that Kingdom and as we journey through this particular part of the journey, that is Lent, we take stock to check that we are on the right road, to check that we are still walking with Jesus on his journey and that we have not diverged.

We are like, in some way, the poet, Robert Frost, who came upon a fork in the road he was walking. Each day, especially in Lent, we have to make a choice of which road we will follow. If we take the right road, we know that we are on the road to happiness in God.

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