“The Word of God came to Abram in a vision. He said, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram; I am your shield. Your reward will be great.” Genesis 15:1.
God’s word is near during the Lenten season. On this Second Sunday of Lent, we hear of transfiguration and the profound spiritual callings that altered the lives of people and souls for generations.
Let’s focus briefly on Abram and Simon in both the Old Testament and Gospel readings.
For Abram, in the middle chapters of the Book of Genesis, he is enveloped in a vision and a promise of vast lands as an inheritance from God. His is a particular problem, however. He has no natural-born son, and no heir to bestow this gift and great promise. Moreover, Abram and his wife, Sarai, are far too old to bear children. Abram tells God, “Lord, what can you give me seeing that I am childless?”
Nonetheless, they accept God’s gift and promise, and Abram’s name is changed to Abraham, meaning “the father of many nations.” He and Sarah have sons — Isaac and Jacob. Abraham is the father of the Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
For Simon Peter, the fisherman, he and the brothers James and John, see a glimpse of Jesus alongside Moses and Elijah. A way of seeing Jesus in a new light and hearing the imposing words, “This is my chosen Son!”
Simon’s name, like Abram’s long before, was changed to Peter, and he would be first among the Apostles. He would follow Jesus on this journey to Jerusalem on the occasion of the cross and resurrection.
Here is a simple observation of mine — generations pass, from parents to children, person to person, heart to heart, from Abraham to his children to the ages of Jews, and to Jesus.
Peter understood on which ground Jesus stood, so much so that he, the apostles, and Paul on his own missionary journey, and for generations could speak to all nations, and to all people of the saving power of God in Jesus Christ.
And echo, these words, “Do not be afraid, I am your shield; your reward will be great!”
A Final Word —Yesterday’s funeral Mass for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was celebrated by his son, Father Paul Scalia, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Father Paul’s homily was a beautifully crafted message for his family, friends, and citizens like me watching on television from around the country. As you may suspect, there is no more difficult task than to preside and preach at the death of a parent.
This sermon stands as the kind of reflection about the gospel and how one person, one soul, tried to live by its demands. The passage below comes toward the end of the homily and makes for a perfect reflection about this season of Lent.
Overall the theme of the funeral homily was that “Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” Father Paul concludes:
“Finally, we look to Jesus forever, into eternity. Even as we pray for Dad to enter swiftly into eternal glory, we should be mindful of ourselves. Every funeral reminds us of just how thin the veil is between this world and the next, between time and eternity, between the opportunity for conversion and the moment of judgment.
So we cannot depart here unchanged. It makes no sense to celebrate God’s goodness and mercy to Dad if we are not attentive and responsive to those realities in our own lives. We must allow this encounter with eternity to change us, to turn us from sin and towards the Lord.”
Here is the video of Father Paul Scalia’s homily:
San Carlos Cathedral, Monterey, CA.
On Thursday afternoon, Patti Reising and Jeff Bell of KCBS Radio, San Francisco, interviewed me concerning the Pope’s onboard press conference and the reaction by presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Here’s the audio of the February 18th interview: