Today's readings give us the great story of the Sacrifice of Abraham and the mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Both point to the sacrifice (or, in the case of Abraham, the intention to sacrifice) an only son. Whereas God stopped Abraham from offering up his son, God did not halt the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, and that brought about the salvation of the world. How are we to respond? What can we sacrifice to the Lord in order to demonstrate our faith? May we live in such a way that God will say to us (as He said to Abraham): "Now I know that you are devoted to me, ... you will be blessed forever."
(The audio on this one is poorer than the others -- sorry!)
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, and as such it serves as a way for us to "get back on track" with God and our faith. Lent offers us all the opportunity to pull back a little from our attention to ourselves and our passions, and to focus more on God and our neighbor. The three practices of Lent -- Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving -- can serve to prepare us well to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
As we celebrate the wedding anniversaries (especially the 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, 60th and beyond) of our brothers and sisters, we have an opportunity to reflect on the vocation of marriage. Marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacrament; a sign of Christ's presence in the world. Just as Jesus laid down his life for us so that we may have eternal life, so a husband lays down his life for his wife, and a wife for her husband. Dying to oneself is not depressing or something to be avoided at all costs. Rather, it is the 'greatest love'; the way to eternal life with God.
Today's readings speak to the trials and difficulties that we experience every day. Often it seems that we can say with Job that our life doesn't appear to have any meaning. Jesus came to be like us in all things, however, and even though he took on our trials and infirmities, he never gave up hope. In fact, he came to bring hope to the world which "groans and struggles through time". The hope that we have in Christ Jesus is stored up for us in heaven. Knowing that God the Father is pleased to give us this gift makes us want to dedicate our lives to building up the Kingdom of God here on earth.
As we celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit with and for our brothers and sisters in the various branches of our state government, we pray for God's guidance in all things. Particularly, we ask for the gift of "Fear of the Lord", so that we may revere and adore God while remembering that we are called to do His will. Only when we 'get out of the way' and let God work through us with God be glorified in us and in our world as well.