Sunday, February 21, 2016

Feb. 21, 2016: 2nd Sunday of Lent C

Feb. 21, 2016: 2nd Sunday of Lent C

Click to hear Audio Homily

How many of you would agree that being stuck on a bridge in your car over an hour is not a pleasant experience? That’s what happened to me this past Tuesday right after the 6PM mass in Donaldsonville. I only had an hour to get to a meeting in Baton Rouge but when I got to the top of the Sunshine Bridge, we came to a standstill. After 30 minutes, I turned my car off and I was beginning to get frustrated. Even though I had just come from mass and had sung the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I wasn’t feeling so merciful. A couple of ambulances and a police cruisers squeezed by an already packed bridge. Finally accepting that I would be on the bridge a while, I decided to pray. Meanwhile, folks behind and beside me began to curse; I could feel so much negative emotions fuming from their mouths. I asked the Lord, “Should I pray for the persons who may be injured in the accident?” Then I sensed in my heart, “Pray more for those who are frustrated and angry on the bridge.” I was surprised by Our Lord’s request; I thought the people injured in the accident were more important. Instead, the folks who were frustrated and angry, including myself, were more in need of prayer. I listened to him and began to pray.

To listen to Jesus, is the main message that Heavenly Father intends for us as a guide on our forty-day journey through this holy season. Rarely does God the Father speak in the New Testament; infact, only in two instances. The first instance occurs at the Baptism of Jesus, and the second instance occurs at Transfiguration of Our Lord which is our gospel reading for today. In both instances, Heavenly Father instructs us, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” To listen to Jesus is what God wants. If we wish to turn away from sin and be more firmly rooted in the gospel, and if we wish to grow in holiness, the best way to do so is to spend this Lent listening to Jesus.

What keeps us from listening to Jesus? The incident on the Sunshine Bridge showed that our impatience, anger, and selfishness can freeze our hearts and block the voice of Jesus. This happens frequently in our daily lives. For example, we curse under our breath or gossip when someone slights us. We put down someone who failed to meet our expectations. St. Paul advises us in the Letter to the Ephesians, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:31–32). Daily we experience the pitiful struggle of being human--only minutes after going to confessions about the sins of cursing someone, we commit it again while driving home. We need not despair however, because Christ will change this miserable state of being human. St. Paul wrote in the Letter to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body.” Christ can change our sinful tendencies, if only we humbly listen to Him so that He can change us.

The Word of God is placed in our hearts when we listen attentively at mass and through scripture reading. His words are treasure that money cannot buy. Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn 6:63), The more that we listen to His Words, our pride, bitterness, negativity, impatience, and anger do not overtake us and overtake our tongues. We have the choice to bless others with His Words that give life. In turn, we will experience a deep abiding peace within ourselves.

While I was stuck on the bridge, I began to pray with a song that I had been listening to earlier. It’s called Gaelic Blessing, and it speaks about the deep peace we can experience through the transforming power of Christ. May we allow Christ to transform our impatience, anger, and selfishness so that our words and our lives be a blessing for others.

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you;
moon and stars pour their beaming light on you.
Deep peace of Christ, the light of the world, to you.

-Fr. Paul Yi