Reflection For the Second Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
Did you know it is reasonably better to be trusted than loved or appreciated? Unfortunately, most people seek to be loved but lack the foreground to be trusted. Trust involves believability and strong confidence in someone’s words and actions.
To obey, on the hand, is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22). Obedience is the ability to submit to someone’s will or directive. In addition, genuine obedience has a lot to do with trust. There is, therefore, an organic relationship between trusting and obeying; in fact, they are cordially related as the one who trusts necessarily obeys.
The First Reading of this Second Sunday of Lent (Gen. 12:1-4a) narrates the call of Abraham, then known as Abram. A little backstory would aid our understanding. The previous Chapter tells us that Abraham’s Father, Terah, left the Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan with his family. However, for undisclosed reasons, he dropped off at Harran, where he settled and died at age 205. Now while in Harran, not Ur of the Chaldeans as many wrongly think, God called Abraham to leave his nation and father’s household to where he would show him.
Abraham’s Trust and Obedience
Notice that there was no introduction to an existing relationship between Abraham and God. Instead, we see Abraham’s unquestioning obedience to follow the divine direction. Abram was more interested in the divine directive than in finding out the details of the journey.
Abraham’s response to God’s call was not because of the promise that followed the instruction to leave Harran, “I will make you a great nation and I will bless you.” Subsequent Chapters of the Book of Genesis will relate how Abraham suffered childlessness to the point of resorting to his slave girl to have a child.
We find in Abraham a man of unconditional trust in God’s words. Recall that when God finally gave him an only child Isaac, God demanded that he go to a place He would show him and offer him as a burnt sacrifice, and Abraham trusted and obeyed God though God was testing him (Genesis 22:1-18).
Steps to Trust and Obey
The stories we read in the sacred scriptures are not just for mere information and entertainment. Still, more significantly, they are meant for our teaching, reproving, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). So, following the story of Abraham, we look at how we can exercise our trust and obedience to God as a path to our in our Lenten journey.
Ask for Open Ears: Abraham did not see God but heard Him. And the only way to hear God is to keep your ears open, in other words, to listen. One of the challenges of our defective human nature is the constant failure to listen or pay attention to God, which is spiritual hearing.
Notice that the most important prayer in Judaism (the Shema) begins with the word “hear” or “listen” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Proverbs (16:20) says, Pay attention to what you are taught, and you will be successful; trust in the Lord, and you will be happy”. And David prayed (psalm 40:6), “sacrifice and offering you did not desire but my ears you have opened.” So often, we keep our ears open to the bad vibes, but God gave us two ears to hear Him more profoundly.
Ask for Open Eyes: There is a difference between sight and insight; the first is physical, while the second is spiritual. Recall when Elisha asked God to open the eyes of his servant Gehazi to see beyond the physical, and God did (2 Kings 6:17).
In the Gospel Reading today (Matt. 17:1-9), our Lord Jesus Christ ascends a high mountain with Peter, James, and John, where he was transfigured. The ascent to the mountain relates to our Lenten journey. The transfiguration of the Lord would be meaningless to us if the apostles did not see it. In order words, their eyes were opened to see a glorious ambiance featuring Moses and Elijah.We pray for the opening of the eyes of our minds.
Ask for Open Heart: The heart is the core of our being and the center of all spiritual activities. The Book of Proverbs (4:23) says to guard your heart for the issues of life flow from it. In the Gospel of Matthew (15:17-20), our Lord Jesus Christ taught that what comes out of the heart defiles a person. In other words, we are as good or bad as our hearts.
Trust and obedience happen primarily in the heart. It is, therefore, important to open our hearts for the Lord to quicken our disposition to trust and obey. The Book of Proverbs (3:5) says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Moving Forward: Just Trust and Obey
The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus is an important instruction in our Lenten journey. Recall that our Lord Jesus Christ was transfigured while he was praying. The primary function of prayer is not to change God or things but to change us. Our Lenten journey will be useless if nothing changes in us.
Before we end, it will be fitting for us to reflect on the lyrics of this timeless Church song by John Sammis:
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still.
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies
But His smile quickly drives it away.
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear
Can abide while we trust and obey
Oh, Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!
God bless you.