As we prepare for this Sunday’s long Gospel, let’s remember to just listen. Just close your eyes and picture the story unfolding before you. We have to hear this story every year, at least every year, because there is so much to learn from it. Every line is packed with truth, wisdom, and beauty. Every time we read it, if we listen closely enough, something new will stand out for us. What stands out for you this time?
Dear Jesus, I would gladly give my life to spare yours, but that wasn’t your plan. Instead, you gave your life to spare mine. Now I can live on for eternity and face death with the hope of heaven. All I need to do is follow you. It’s simple but not easy. I pray for the faith, hope, and love I need to be your disciple. It is so difficult to do in a world that wants to crucify your body, the Church. I get caught in the web of lies designed to draw people away from you all of the time. But there you are through it all, and if I am willing to look for you I will find you. You hold fast to the truths you taught, you remain the spotless lamb who died for our sins so we can have a clearer view of heaven. Help me to keep that hope and faith alive. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery were words of healing. This is what Jesus offers us. Let’s not be afraid to go to him with our sins, because his response will be a healing balm that will enable us to continue in our mission of love. We need to go back to the source of love in order to prevail in loving others. If we stay away from God for fear of condemnation, we stay away from that source. Come to Jesus, and listen to him say, “I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
The parable of the prodigal son has so many real-life applications. How does the story apply to your life today? God speaks through his word and through life. His word is a lamp to guide us through our daily lives. Let the words of this parable echo throughout your day, and see the ways God is calling you home, or telling you to take advantage of the heavenly treasures that are already yours.
God wants to forgive, but we have to ask for forgiveness in order for him to give it. Often we do not forgive ourselves, because–even though we have true remorse for our sins–we do not believe God can forgive us, so we do not listen for him to say back to us the words, “I forgive you.” This is why the sacrament of confession is so important. It is helpful to speak our sins out loud to another person, because by doing so we take true ownership of them–like a criminal confessing a crime. In a similar way, it is important to listen to the priest say the words, “Your sins are forgiven”, because that makes the reconciliation with God more real. Going to confession during Lent–or any day–is great, but this week would be an especially good time to go because it would be an active way to listen and respond to Christ’s calling in this Sunday’s Gospel to repent.
The Father’s words are clear: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” With all the voices vying for our attention, it could be difficult to hear him. Let the story of the Transfiguration help us distinguish God’s voice from the others. Sometimes his voice is the quiet whisper in the wind, sometimes it comes in a cloud that surrounds us. The telling sign is what the voice does to our hearts. Sometimes he wants us to be quiet to hear him. Sometimes he reveals his power. The common effect his voice has though, is the way it goes directly to our hearts like nothing else. His voice has a distinct effect there, and we know it when we feel it. It’s like a homing beacon; it’s the most familiar, deepest, and all-encompassing feeling our hearts can experience. A loud noise may startle us, but the voice of God encompasses, consumes, and overwhelms us so that there is no mistake that it is God speaking. We cannot put God to the test; we can’t expect him to reveal his glory everytime we want to hear him. But if we follow him closely as Peter, James, and John did, every now and then he will reveal his glory in his own time as he did on Mount Tabor during the Transfiguration.