February 25, 2024 –
The Second Sunday of Lent [Year B]

Fr. Drew Hoffman

The first few months of the New Year are often difficult for people… cold weather, longing for the bygone holiday season, failed New Year’s resolutions. But I’ve always found it to be a refreshing spiritual time because it reminds me of my own discernment of the priesthood, which reached a fever pitch during the month of February while I was a sophomore in college. For months and months, I had told the Lord the same thing: “Just tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it! Anything you ask of me, Jesus!” But I didn’t really mean it! I wanted to get married, so while I told Jesus I’d do anything He asked, I had a very narrow vision of what that meant. Finally, in the early days of February, through prayer, spiritual guides, and some Divine Providence, He moved my heart out of the comfort zone of what I was “willing” to do so that I could actually say and mean, “Just tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it,” and say yes to the seminary.

The Scriptures are full of moments like this. Take Abraham in our First Reading for this Second Sunday of Lent. He hears his name called and he cries out, “Here I Am!” This is the ancient and traditional statement of openness to the Lord. He implies he is willing to do whatever the Lord will ask of him. But then he is presented with something beyond comprehension… to sacrifice his only son! His certainty in the Lord’s goodness is immediately tested. Does he really mean that he is here, that he will do whatever the Lord asks if only he makes it known. He must be thinking, “Lord, I would do anything for You, but not THAT!” One is reminded of the magnificent scene in the Acts of the Apostles where Saul is left blinded by his encounter with Lord on the way to Damascus. The Lord calls out to Ananias, who gives the same response as Abraham: “Here I Am!” We can sense his Faith and his deep desire to serve, but then the Lord asks something he could never imagine… welcome the one who is persecuting Christians into your home, grant him sight, and baptize him! Once again, the Lord asks the willing soul something beyond their comprehension. And in the cases of Abraham and Ananias, as well as with every willing soul, their courage and bravery are intensely rewarded.

The Lord knows this is difficult! He knows He asks hard things of us, so He provides us moments of strength, confidence, and encounter! In our Gospel, Peter, James, and John experience the transfigured Lord in His majesty and might. They KNOW in that moment that He is God and that whatever He asks will be worth it. The Lord grants them this moment because He will soon ask difficult things of them; to preach Him amongst non-believers, to travel to the ends of the earth, and, eventually, to go to their deaths. How often they must have recalled this magnificent moment while they were dealing with a difficult call from the Lord. How Abraham must have meditated upon the Lord’s goodness in granting his desire for a son when he was asked to give him away.

When the Lord grants us these “mountaintop” experiences—moments in which we feel Him, know Him to be God, and know ourselves to be loved by Him—we cannot merely let them pass. It is understandable that Peter wants to remain in that magnificent moment on the mountain. The saints refer to this as consolation, and they encourage us to soak it up, to allow it to deeply penetrate our mind and heart. By resting in and remembering the activity of the Lord during great times, we are encouraged and strengthened to believe that God will come through for us when we follow Him into something difficult! A great spiritual habit to develop is to think through your day before you go to bed, not only considering your moments of sin, but also saying thank you for the many, often hidden, moments of God’s activity. When we recall the mountaintop experiences, we are more prepared to trust God’s call.

Jesus knows you are strong enough to do hard things, things you never imagined you’d be capable of doing. This Lent, recall those moments in which Jesus has come through in your life, when He has shown you a mountaintop experience, when He has granted you a great desire. Ask Him for the grace to believe that the same will be true this time, when you say, Here I am, and follow through with whatever he asks.