Pastor’s Corner for the Second Sunday of Lent by Rev. Fr. Rampe Hlobo SJ
Our first reading today tells us of the story of Abram who is called to leave his country, his familiar surroundings and his comfort-zone. God calls him to go into an unknown land, unfamiliar territory and to an unknown future. This must have been undoubtedly a daunting and difficult call for Abram who was at that time a septuagenarian. Despite all the uncertainties and the unknown future Abram trusts in the Lord who promises blessings so great that even all nations will use his name as a benediction. He trusts and follows the call.
In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis reminds us that those who believe are always called and sent:
“The word of God constantly shows us how God challenges those who believe in him “to go
forth”. Abraham received the call to set out for a new land (cf. Gen 12:1-3). Moses heard God’s call: “Go, I send you” (Ex 3:10) and led the people towards the promised land (cf. Ex 3:17). To Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer1:7).” §20
We too as followers of Christ and Catholics, we are constantly called to go into the not so easy and unfamiliar spiritual and existential territories. Our faith invites us to leave our comfort zones, just Abram was called to leave his and go into unfamiliar realms. Like him, we are to trust in God and Jesus Christ.
During this time of Lent as we reflect or pray, fast or abstain and practise almsgiving or works of charity, we not only try to observe these Lenten adherences but endeavour as well, to deepening and concretise our missionary discipleship. Again, in Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that we are all missionary followers of Christ. This means we are not just passive, but active members of the body of Christ, the church. We are baptised and therefore missionary disciples:
“In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization…” §120
In the gospel, today we hear of Peter who wanted to stay in the wonderful experience of the Transfiguration: “Lord it is wonderful for us to be here…” But they had to come down the mountain. The “Son of Man” Jesus, had to continue and finish his painful mission.
So, Lent is also a time when we reflect on, and recommit to our missionary discipleship. We respond to this call, bearing in mind that the mission is not easy, but equally not impossible.
Like Jesus, we too cannot rest in our laurels, we have to come down from our own mountains and like Abram, leave our spiritual comfort zones. The mission has to continue, by responding to the call to holiness and regeneration of the difficult task of Jesus, of building the Kingdom of God. That mission of course, as Paul reminds in the second reading, comes with hardships. It is however, accompanied by innumerable and enabling graces for us to accomplish it. Therefore, like Abram, we have to trust that God through His graces, will see us through what He asks of us.