Welcome growth in our faith family
One of the many gifts of Lent for our wonderful volunteers is to meet adults who are seeking to enter the church in a deeper walk with the Lord and us.
One member of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is called an “Elect”-a person to be Baptized; all the members of the program-English and Spanish are in the Catechumenate. The months of formation is a process of teaching discipleship that began in the early centuries of the Christian Church. The program has been reclaimed in the twentieth century, primarily because of Vatican II. Since then our Church has worked in the development of the RICA program. The process of faith formation and spiritual development for people who have little or no previous association with the Christian faith. The catechumenate focuses on the development of the disciplines of faith including corporate worship, the study of Scripture, prayer, and baptismal living. The discernment time is counter cultural since it is process-oriented rather than program-oriented., often lay-led rather than clergy dominated, formation in Christ rather than information about Christ. Through the catechumenate, adults on a spiritual quest are offered an apprenticeship in the life of faith and those already baptized are aided in the deepening of their faith and commitment.
Throughout the world our Church will be receiving hundreds of thousands of new members. Often these seekers make sacrifices in their lifestyles so they can join us in the journey; even if joining us is not favored by their families. Each in their own way express a deep love for God and for the people who have helped bring them to this time/place of commitment in their lives. Very often our faith partners express a respect for their families and the parish that influenced their choice to fully enter the Roman Catholic Church.
These wonderful people are making a sacrifice in their schedules taking the time to listen to where the Lord may be calling them. It is no accident that our readings for the season invite us to do the same. Listen—sacrifice—wake up our faith and trust in the Lord.
We hear about such a journey in our first reading. Abraham makes many sacrifices in faith. He was stuck with his difficult nephew Lot, he had to deal with the Egyptians, and then with tribes that wanted to keep him from moving into their territories. Our Father in Faith had his faith challenged repeatedly, including the supreme test of sacrificing his son. Each time he is challenged he surrenders more and grows more deeply in faith. Lent asks us to do the same.
Sacrifice is also Paul’s message to Timothy in our second reading. He states that his journey of faith is “the hardship that the gospel entails.” By the gospel, Paul is referring to the whole new way of living demanded by following Christ.
Why do we have hardship if we believe in God and follow Jesus? Living Jesus means we hold ourselves to His standards of moral behavior—not popular opinion. We strive to be non-judgmental, avoid bearing resentment or hatred. Simply put, we try to be good. That has a huge influence in our family, workplace, and community—as people what it means to be Christian. That can be a real challenge for us—even a hardship—especially with some of the people God puts in our lives–a sacrifice, and certainly a test at times.
But that is the witness of faith—knowing that God will take such moments where we surrender—he will bless them and give us peace. Maybe not as quickly as we would like—but eventually those sacrificial choices we make become blessings—if we just allow God to take control.
AND when we strive to live according to principles and morals of faith given to us by Jesus, our lives are often counter cultural — very different than the so called modern way of living. We need to support faith witness in all families. For families are the foundation– as they witness faith and not double- standards—do what I say not what I do. We strive to avoid hypocrisy—in families and church families.
And people are attracted when they see us live our faith authentically; you know and experience that. How many times have we admired the faith of others; their witness of patience and trust in God?
It is in this vein that we can understand the importance of the gospel reading for today, the Transfiguration of the Lord. In his awestruck experience of the holy Transfiguration of Jesus, Peter wanted to build tents, an ancient Hebrew shelter for the sacred, a desert sanctuary to celebrate the Holiness of Jesus with Moses and Elijah. But the Transfiguration of Jesus also means that we are those tents, the signs of holiness to our families and community.
Lent reminds to listen on how to live joyfully the hardship of the gospel of love. We separate ourselves from selfish desires to be more generous with others, for our on-going conversion to be more like Christ in all that we do. We are transfigured by him to see our goodness and that of all people. It is then that we live the instruction God first proclaimed 2,000 years ago, and continues to proclaim to us
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him!” Blessed Hearing, Fr. Gordon