By Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.
Now that we are well on our way in the season of Lent, I am sure each of us has made some Lenten resolutions. Maybe you gave up chocolate or social media. Maybe you promised to watch less television and to pray more. And I’m sure that now after a week of Lent each of us have been tempted to have that chocolate or watch the extra hour of television.
We know we ought to keep our resolutions. We know it’s the right thing to do. But we also know it is hard! It is hard to change our habits. If we just had a little extra will power, then we would be successful. Walk into any bookstore and you’ll see shelves of self-help books that offer us hundreds of strategies for improving our lives. And for most of us, those books are not very helpful. No matter how hard we try, we often fail after a few weeks. No matter how great the self-help strategy is, we falter.
Our readings for the second Sunday of Lent offer us an alternative to self-help books. Instead of self-help, our readings point to the importance of community and covenant. In the first reading from Genesis, Abram entered into covenant with God. Abram did not seek of his own accord and effort to make himself great. He did not try to build a great nation through his own work. Instead, he entered into covenant and God blessed Abram. Abram didn’t go it his own. He stayed connected to God and was blessed.
In the Gospel reading we have the story of the Transfiguration. Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the mountain, and together they witness something that is unbelievable. Together they see Jesus become dazzling white and they see Moses and Elijah with him. Together they are in awe and are frankly befuddled. Then they hear the voice of God and fear overwhelms them. It took a simple touch from Jesus to rescue them from their fear.
This episode highlights the importance of being in community, in communion, with one another and with Jesus. Peter, James and John did not have individual experiences of the transfiguration. Instead, they witnessed these events together as a community. And when they were frightened and scared, they did not try to go it alone and figure out what was happening. Instead, through their connection with Jesus they were able to overcome the fear.
Communion and covenant are important elements of our Precious Blood spirituality. We believe that the Precious Blood of Christ has made us one. And we have been bound to God by a bond that can never be broken. During this time of Lent, instead of turning to the self-help section of a bookstore, let us turn to one another for help and support. Let us realize that Christ, is reaching out to touch us and to tell us to not be afraid for Christ is with us.
The V. Rev. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., is the provincial director of the United States Province. Previously, he served as the secretary general of the worldwide Congregation and was also in ministry at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., of which he is an alumnus.