Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Does it seem a little confusing; what exactly is the relationship between the first reading, the call of Abraham, and the Gospel, the Transfiguration?  And if we can figure that out, what does either have to do with Lent?  Last week we heard about original sin and then the temptation of Jesus in the desert.  Made sense:  temptation, sin, isn’t that what we are trying to change during Lent,?  But then we get to today’s readings and that theme seems to have been forgotten.  Or has it?
The key is that first reading which is the beginning of the 12th chapter of Genesis.  This is the pivotal chapter of the Bible but to understand that we have to see what happened before it.  Genesis starts with the story of creation, God creates the world and everything in it including his supreme creation, man.  And he declares that it is good, very good.  But Adam and Eve do not listen to God, they want to be in charge, so they disobey and sin.  Here is the first important lesson, when we stop listening to God, when we focus on “me” and “my plandysfunction follows.  We move from the garden to the desert.  And that pattern keeps repeating, when humanity stops listening to God they become more and more dysfunctional.  Cain murders Abel, our arrogance brings on a massive flood, we decide to build a tower, the tower of Babel, because we are in charge.  We will climb up to God, we will get ourselves out of the desert.  We, we, we.  Eleven chapters of humanity’s refusal to listen to God.

What is God to do?  The rest of the Bible is the story of the Creator’s strategy to mount a rescue operation, to save humanity from its own foolishness.  He will call a people, Israel, and teach them to listen to His voice.  And He will do this through Abram.  The question is will Abram listen?  So God speaks to Abram, “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”  Wait a minute, leave everything I know, and go somewhere I don’t know?  Salvation history rests on the next seven wordsAbram went as the Lord directed him.  Abram listened and he becomes Abraham and Sarai becomes Sarah because when we listen to God, we change.  Salvation history is filled with the names of those that listened:  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Mary, Peter, James, John, Paul.

Now, flash forward 1,500 years from Abraham to our Gospel reading and because Israel has once again forgotten to listen, God’s rescue mission continues, now with Christ.  “From the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’”  Not a suggestion, a command.  Not only to Peter, James and John but to us.  We are all sons and daughters of Abraham, we were all chosen, called in Baptism, called to listen.  It is interesting that when the sweet voice in our navigation system says “turn right in 500 feet” we listen and turn right in 500 feet.  To not listen results in dysfunction, we get lost.  What about when God speaks, do we listen? 

Maybe that should be our Lenten practice: listening to God.  How?  Prayer.  Prayer should never be a monologue, us telling God what we need or what we need Him to do.  He already knows.  It should be a heartfelt conversation with God and that involves listening.  We should tell God what is on our mind, and then listen, listen with our hearts.  And sometimes God speaks through others, listen to them.  When you are asked to contribute your time, talents or resources to a project or individual or group in need, maybe that is God speaking to us, listen!

Want a good Lenten discipline?  Learn to listen.  Listen to God and listen to each other.