Bishop’s Letter: Here I am

 

 

If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Where are you? We hear God asking that of Adam and Eve. Now, we also hear him asking Abraham the same question. The response of Adam and Eve was cloaked in difficulty because their eyes were open to disobedience, to stepping away from God. Abraham does not falter, “Here I am Lord.” On this second Sunday of Lent, God asks us, “Where are you?” Are you with me? Are you drawing near to me? Abraham, in his yes to God, offers intense, self-giving love.

My dear people, we began the season of Lent, praying, Create in me a clean heart, O God. It is our perpetual cry to God. The psalmist speaks to our difficulty in leaving God because of sin and how divisive this becomes. But, the first line of the prayer, Create in me a clean heart, O God, is only possible if we also agree to participate with God to know our weaknesses and failings. It is this prayer to God which helps us to realize what keeps us from God, what divides each one of us individually. This division can grow to divide our family, our friends, and those with whom we work.

We ask the Lord to renew within us a steadfast spirit that we receive the joy of His salvation. Jesus spoke about the flourishment of God’s kingdom on earth through the parable of sowing seeds. When we participate with God, then our goodness will flourish and He will be made known to those whom we encounter. When we try to do things on our own, without our acknowledgement of God, then His Kingdom will not flourish.

Pope Francis said, “Human life is born of the love of God, grows in love and tends towards love. No one is excluded from the love of God, and in the holy sacrifice of Jesus his Son on the cross, God conquered sin and death.”

What might self-giving love look like in your daily living? It is a daily living that begins with prayer, not just the words prayed, but the view of the world as God-given. It is the discovery that each moment is filled with wonder and awe as you encounter your family or travel to your workplace. It is seeing the person who obstructs as a gift from God, one who is placed before you to bring God forth—perhaps the strength of patience or the encounter with a smile. It is wearing your mask in public and remembering those who are suffering. It is sharing your treasures with those in need. It is working for the common good and renouncing personal gain. It is the best offering of ourselves through the Eucharist. St. Augustine said, “Believe what you see, see what you believe and become what you are: the Body of Christ.”

After prayer and fasting, Jesus is at the mountaintop. From the clouds we hear, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Lent is not about trying to appear to be worthy before God. It is living selflessly for others! Know that no matter your distractions or difficulties, God participates with you to heal and renew. We grow in holiness when we are ready and our response to others, through, with and in God, is offered in sincerity and truth. Listen to God and be ready with your response, “Here I am Lord.”