Second Sunday of Lent
February 21, 2016
Fr. José Maria Cortex, F.S.C.B.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Lenten season is a time to elevate our lives to God. In the first reading, God says to Abram: “Look up at the sky and count the stars.” The Gospel says: “Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up the mountain to pray.” We are invited to “look up” and to “go up.”

When I was a boy, in the summer during vacation time, my family used to look at the stars after supper. My parents would explain the different constellations. It was amazing to see the greatness of the universe. When we look at the stars, we think about the infinite mystery that created all these things.

The first time I went to the Holy Land, instead of taking a cab I decided to climb Mt. Tabor with a small group. We tried to imagine what Jesus’ climb with the Apostles was like. When we arrived at the top of the mountain, we were amazed by the beauty of the view. It was really a wonderful place to pray, full of silence and peace.

Elevating our lives to God requires us to look at the infinite but also to move ourselves. To elevate ourselves, we need to look up but we also need to go up. Vision and action are required. It is not enough to see—we also need to act. Without action, without our movement, the truth of what we see does not become ours. We need to climb the mountain, we need to get closer to the stars.

God made great promises to Abram. He promised him innumerable descendants and the possession of land. It is interesting that Abram asks God: “How am I to know that I shall possess it?” Great question! This is the same kind question that Mary asked when the Archangel Gabriel announced that she was going to be the mother of the Messiah: “How is it possible?”

On our path toward the maturation of our faith, we should ask God questions. It is legitimate to ask about the reasons for our faith.

God answered Abram by making a covenant with him. He answered him with action. He made something happen. The fire from heaven passed between the pieces of the animals. This is the old way that Bedouins made a pact.

The way that God answers human questions is by what happens. Events and witnesses are the means by which Our Lord answers us. He answers us through signs. The Archangel Gabriel told Mary that she was going to receive the Holy Spirit and that Elizabeth was pregnant.

In the second reading, Saint Paul invites the Philippians to view him as a role model: “Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.”

To elevate our lives, we need to find models to follow. We can see the stars and we can climb the mountain, imitating those who have gone before us.

This Lent, we have all received a great example to imitate. Pope Benedict, with his great humility and total trust in God, teaches us that the center is not ourselves but Christ. Looking at the Pope’s gesture and following his example, we can elevate our existence.

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