7 March 2021 – 3rd Sunday of Lent
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.
Brothers and Sisters,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Anyone who has had to wait to enjoy their dessert until after they finished their lima beans understands that obedience is never easy. In all seriousness, suppressing our own preferences can be difficult. Not to mention, when we lack understanding as to why obedience is required, yielding to an authority-figure becomes even harder. While it is always prudent to follow God’s will for us regardless of our appreciation of his plan, a greater understanding is important.
The story of the wedding at Cana offers us a great example of obedience regardless of contextual knowledge. When Mary asks the servants to listen to her son, Jesus, their understanding of the situation at hand is absent. How on earth will Jesus resolve this dilemma as the last drops of wine are consumed at a wedding feast? Regardless, those asked obey Mary’s command, and through their cooperation, Jesus’ first “sign” is made visible. And what does this sign, a miracle, reveal? It clearly points to the cross and the hour divinely scheduled and accepted by Jesus. Christ’s obedience to the will of his Father coincides with his obedience to his mother.
In today’s proclamation, Jesus has just left the aforementioned wedding feast and is heading to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover with his recently recruited apostles. On arrival, Jesus begins to “clean house” after recognizing the distortion of God’s will in the money changers, who have shifted the intended sacrifice to the Lord to a means to personal gain.
This is a hard question to ask ourselves, but how have we acted similarly, seeking personal gain, veiled in the worship of the Lord or service to others?
As we seek to grow in belief, I encourage you to take a leap of faith and simply trust in God’s will (and at times, after discernment in prayer and confirmation from spiritual friends and mentors, trust that we have correctly identified God’s will). Our childlike trust will lead to joyful obedience, and as we work on building God’s kingdom, our understanding of God’s plan will continue to unfold.
At the same time, we should be cultivating our relationship with God through prayer, which will enlighten our understanding of his plans for us and will inversely increase our willingness to cooperate with God’s plan. As both obedience and understanding increase, our faith will naturally strengthen, and our eyes of belief will more readily see the signs of God’s glory on our path. And we’ll have the courage to boldly accept the invitation of Jesus to accompany him to Jerusalem, to share in his passion and death, that we might share in eternal life.
In Light Brightly Visible 2.0, Archbishop Lori acknowledges this important process of discerning God’s ways and following with our whole heart, mind, and soul. Conversion, and by that ongoing conversion, is necessary for true disciples. We cannot be stagnant. His invitation in this pastoral letter is to continue building the Kingdom Jesus desires. In Section VII, the Archbishop acknowledges the “shadows” that we face: the clear disruption that our current COVID-19 crisis has caused; the scandal that eroded trust and that has shown the devastation that abuse has taken on many of God’s beloved daughters and sons; the struggle to diminish clericalism, while increasing accountability and involvement of the laity in leadership; the secular culture that is at times indifferent and in others truly hostile to authentic practice of religious faith; and the polarized society that leads to dysfunction, mistrust, and discord.
Invoking the image of the Church as a ship, the Archbishop encourages confidence in the light of Christ conquering any darkness:
The barque of Peter will always experience the turbulence of the seas of culture and history, and there will always be a provisional quality to our efforts of reform and renewal. As a result, we cannot wait until conditions are ideal before we put our shoulder to the wheel and give ourselves wholeheartedly to the mission of evangelization. Let me re-emphasize that none of these “shadows,” nor all of them taken together, constitute a good reason for us to delay or postpone the Church’s mission of evangelization. The mission is Christ’s and it remains valid and urgent. (Light Brightly Visible 2.0)
It comes back to Mary’s guidance, “Do whatever he tells you.” Let us put aside the obstacles or excuses, to embrace the call to discipleship and be bearers of the Gospel – the good news for all.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Rev. Michael S. Triplett