2nd Sunday of Lent — Deacon’s Homily

Homily 2nd Sunday of Lent

If I asked you if you pray, most if not all of you would most likely say yes, of course we pray. How would you answer the question: What do you expect from prayer? One obvious response is: an answer to my prayers. We are in fact encouraged through scripture to pray for God’s intersection.

In Mark 11:22-24 Jesus said: … “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. …”

Even though we have heard these words from Jesus, many times we may feel as though God does not answer our prayers or that His answer may not always be what we want. Sometimes our answer from God is not the end result but the journey. Sometimes we must journey to the Cross before we can be resurrected from the darkness. That was in fact what Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were discussing.

We must be patient but always seeking God’s presence in our lives. God meets us in the darkness that we face. In the First Reading it states: “… a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him. … It was on that occasion that the Lord made a covenant with Abram …” Sometimes God answers us in the silence. It is meeting God in the silence that we can find the peace he wants for us.

But is asking for something in prayer what praying is all about? Is that the sole purpose of prayer? When you get together with someone you are close to, is it only for the purpose to ask for their help? I would say that your relationship with that person goes much deeper than that. What kind of relationship do you have with God? Do you only pray when you need help?

The Gospel today helps us to better understand the overarching goal of prayer. The first line states: “Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up the mountain to pray.” The mountain symbolizes transcendence. Jesus went to a place where he would not be interrupted. A place of silence. A place to engage in a very personal and spiritual encounter.

Where is your mountain, your place of silence where you can encounter God and the Saints? We sometimes refer to this as our inner room, a place where we can step out of ourselves, to step out of the busyness of life and find a peaceful silence. We need this uninterrupted time in the day to make ourselves fully present to those we wish to converse with in heaven. I am sure many of us may question how to carve out more time in the day with our very busy schedules.

Thomas Merton reflected on prayer stating that: “If we really want prayer, we’ll have to give it time.” If we want something to truly be an important part of our lives, we must prioritize it. We must make it a part of our everyday lives. Relationships require commitment. If we want a deep personal relationship with God we need to make the time. Prayer is more than a conversation, it is communing, a sharing of our most intimate thoughts and feelings with God. It is when our souls are laid bare, nothing is left in the darkness. It is when everything about us is exposed to the light of God.

The second line of the Gospel states: “While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.” This tells us that Jesus had a breakthrough moment with the heavenly realm. He was communing with Moses and Elijah. The light of God’s presence radiated out of the whole of his being. This is when God the Father spoke to Peter, John, and James telling them: “This is my chosen Son, listen to him.” This message is meant for all of us. We need to foster a deep personal relationship with Christ.

The saints are a good example of how we can form this type of relationship with Christ. I am sure we have heard about a halo of light emanating from saints. The light of God radiates from them as they are all connected to the heavenly realm. What is their secret? They are rooted in prayer. That is where we start. We must begin our journey to a life rooted in prayer.
If you envision a tree that grows hundreds of feet tall. It needs strong roots to survive. The strong roots of the tree are its foundation. Without a strong root system the tree would fall over as it grows taller or if it was hit by a storm. The roots also provide the necessary nutrients through the soil that the tree needs to both grow and to eventually produce fruit.
Prayer is our spiritual roots. It grounds us to God who is the source of all life. Prayer is a vehicle of God’s grace which nourishes our soul. Without it we cannot grow stronger in our faith. It is the means by which we form a personal relationship with God and the Communion of Saints.
If any one of us live our lives not rooted in prayer, we are missing out on the experience to commune with our Lord and the Saints in a very intimate way. As Thomas Merton said, we need to make the time to pray. Lent is a time to transform ourselves. Lent is a time to get back to the spiritual basics. We need to focus on our spiritual health and strengthening our faith.

Jesus wants us to pray, so that we can also have this transcending relationship with him, God the Father, his Mother, and with all the Saints. We all come together as one body of Christ through prayer. We become a conduit of God’s love and grace for all to experience. What a beautiful world it would be with God’s light shining throughout all humanity.

During this Lent, let’s begin this journey to an intimate relationship with God through a lifelong journey of prayer. Let’s begin not just conversing with God but communing with Him and all the Saints. Let’s build a relationship with God through prayer that allows the light of Christ to shine through us and in turn help us to bring the light of Christ into the world.

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