Theme: The Journey of Faith
During my first apostolic work as a senior seminarian, I was sent to a parish in my diocese. This parish was located in the hinterland and I was informed that there was no power supply and mobile telecommunication service (network) there. I was used to regular power supply and I imagined how I could neither charge my mobile phone nor have access to the internet for six weeks. Worst still, then, I was not used to spending a long period of time outside my home or seminary. I wondered how comfortable I would be in a strange environment especially among people of a different culture and dialect. Within the apostolate, I discovered that the grace of God was always at my disposal and it enabled me enjoy the circumstances under which I worked. Perhaps, you may have had a similar experience leaving your home for a strange land either as a result of marriage or educational pursuit or in search of greener pasture. We know there are always lots of anxieties involved in leaving a familiar place for an unfamiliar place.
In the first reading (Gen. 12:1-4), Abram may have experienced such anxieties when he was called by God to abandon his fatherland, kinsmen, patrimony and the homeliness of his environment for an unknown destination and mission. He quickly abandoned those things and followed the voice of God for a journey to an unknown land. In that unknown land he would begin a new way of life. In his decision to obey the voice of God even when he did not understand the will of God, we see a manifestation of his unwavering faith in God. This story of Abram represents our journey of faith; a journey from the known to the unknown. The journey of faith is a conscious effort to grow in holiness so as to be deeply united with God. This journey is not a human initiative. God alone initiates this journey and like Abram, He is calling us to abandon our comfort zones and those things we are attached to, to embrace a new way of living. He wants us to detach from inferior realities that we may be attached to superior realities.
Within this period of lent, the voice of God still re-echoes in the voice of the Church inviting us to undertake the journey of faith. This journey of faith involves abandoning our sinful and old ways of life for a new beginning. It includes giving up some of those things that are precious to us that we may be more devoted to the things of God. The journey of faith is a journey towards a life of virtue, prayer, penance and charity. It is a journey towards perfection and it embraces sacrifices and suffering. It is a journey in which we have to let go of certain things. As Abram let go of his landed property and patrimony, we also have to let go of our pride, selfishness, arrogance, debauchery and other sinful actions. As we let go of these things, God prepares a better place for us. Faith in God demands our separation from sin and occasions of sin. This period of lent is a very good opportunity to effect this separation from sin. A life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving will avail us of the necessary graces to make a sincere separation from sin.
Unlike Abraham who undertook the journey of faith ignorant of the destination, we Christians are also not ignorant of our destination. Ours is a journey towards glory. The Gospel reading (Mt. 17:1-9) confirms this in the story of the transfiguration of our Lord Jesus. We may recall that before the transfiguration, Jesus had told his disciples the necessity of undertaking a journey of faith which will culminate in his suffering and death. They saw his death as the death of hope and Peter confronted him. But Jesus rebuked him and after some days took him together with James and John to the mountain where he was transfigured. His transfiguration thus became a foretaste of what we shall experience when we arrive at the end of our journey of faith in heaven. This story is meant to keep us focused on our journey of faith. Since we have an idea of what awaits us at the end of the journey, we can then be more focused on our journey with the hope that at the end, we shall also be like him who was transfigured on the mount.
Beloved brethren, though there may be lots of temptations and distractions on this journey, let us try to be focused. The transfiguration narrative enlightens our vision, strengthens our courage, solidifies our faith and increases our hope. With hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel, St Paul in the second reading (2 Timothy 1:8-10) also advices us to accept in good faith the hardship that the gospel entails. Our journey of faith would expose us to several difficulties but the joy is that Jesus has won for us an everlasting life we shall inherit at the end of our journey. Therefore, through the Good News we have shared together, may God grant us the grace to remain focused on our journey especially within this Lenten season. Happy Sunday. God loves you.