Second Sunday of Lent

As Moses and Elijah –famous mountain climbers- and of course as Jesus, we have many challenges in our lives.

Many times we have mountains that seem greater than we can conquer. These challenges may be a chemical dependency in one or several of the members of our family; the problem may be emotional or psychological. Whatever the challenge, if we take it up and put our trust in God to help us, God will provide. If God is with us, what could possibly keep us from our deepest desire, the desire to be happy with him forever? Nothing, St. Paul says, can keep us from the love of God. To paraphrase the letter to the Romans, neither persecution nor pain, nor suffering nor chemical dependency, nor psychological conditions nor even difficult relatives can destroy His presence in us[1].

Happiness comes from within. Happiness comes from recognizing that the One who has shared His intimate life with us, refuses to desert us as we climb the each challenge life presents[2].

During the last century we experienced many examples of people who were happy in the most desperate situations. Two particularly stand out. The great Catholic priest Maximillian Kolbe showed heroic virtue in a concentration camp during the Second World War. He offered his life to replace that the father of a family when the Nazis decided to kill a certain number of the prisoners as an example to the rest. In this midst of terror, Maximillian Kolbe found the peace of the Lord and as a result the Church was given a new saint[3].
The second is the great American Cardinal, Joseph Bernardino[4]. He was challenged with a spurious allegation and then was challenged with cancer. He died happy and in peace. One of the most beautiful books I have ever read is Cardinal Bernardine's The Gift of Peace. Treat yourself. Buy it, enjoy it and watch how Cardinal Bernardine's climb will encourage you to climb the mountains of your life. God alone turns tragedy into triumph. Yes, we struggle, we climb, we grope for every inch as we go up our latest mountain, but God cares for us and provides for us.

In this era of information and google, when the Internet open the world of knowledge to every home, we have to admit that information is not the solution to every problem. We don't have the answers for all the problems of the world. We don't even know all the right questions. We are called upon to trust in God and to have faith. He has always provided for us and he always will as long as we have faith in him.

Lent is a journey of faith. We are called in this second Sunday of Lent to trust in the Lord in our deepest struggles. Maybe the real mountain we have to climb is the mountain of faith. We don't climb this mountain alone. The one gift of the Lord that is never denied is the gift of faith. Let us pray together ■

[1] Cfr 8:35-39
[2] Sunday 8th March, 2009, 2nd Sunday of Lent. Readings: Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18. I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living—Ps 115(116):10, 15-19. Romans 8:31-34. Mark 9:2-10. [St John of God]
[3] In 1907 Kolbe and his elder brother Francis decided to join the Conventual Franciscans. They illegally crossed the border between Russia and Austria-Hungary and joined the Conventual Franciscan junior seminary in Lwów. He professed his first vows in 1911, adopting the name Maximilian, and the final vows in 1914, in Rome, adopting the names Maximilian Maria, to show his veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1912 he was sent to Kraków, and in the same year to a college in Rome, where he studied philosophy, theology, mathematics, and physics. He earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1915 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and the doctorate in theology in 1919 at the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure. In 1918 Kolbe was ordained a priest. In 1919 he returned to the newly independent Poland, where he was very active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Between 1930 and 1936 he took a series of missions to Japan, where he founded a monastery at the outskirts of Nagasaki, a Japanese paper and a seminary.
[4] He was born on April 2, 1928 in Columbia, South Carolina to Joseph and Maria Simion Bernardin, an Italian immigrant couple. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Columbia. Bernardin's original academic ambition was to become a physician, inspiring him to enroll in the pre-medical program at the University of South Carolina. However, a year later, Bernardin recognized his calling to serve as a Catholic priest, and transferred to Saint Mary Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy in 1948, and subsequently enrolled in the Catholic University of America to complete his theological studies. On April 26, 1952, Bernardin was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Charleston by John J. Russell at St. Joseph Church. This diocese covers the entire state of South Carolina. During his 14-year tenure at the Diocese of Charleston, Father Bernardin served under four bishops in capacities including chancellor, vicar general, diocesan counselor, and, when the See was vacant, diocesan administrator. In 1959, Pope John XXIII named Bernardin a Papal Chamberlain. In the Consistory of February 2, 1983, he was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II. He was given La Perrocchia di Gesú Divino Lavoratore (The Church of Jesus the Divine Worker) as his titular church. He also served as President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Ilustration: Unknowm master, The Transfiguration of Christ (fragment of Epistyle), First half of the 12th century, L Hermitage (St. Petesburg).

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris