2nd Sunday of Lent. March 1st 2015
Gen 22;1-2,9.10-13,15-18; Rom 8:31-34; Mk 9:2-10
Marks of true devotion
“I now know how devoted you are to God.”
The Patriarch Abraham is praised for being a devoted servant of God: “I now know how devoted you are to God.” What makes him merit this praise of being truly devoted? Is it just because he was willing to sacrifice his only son, the son of God’s promise, in obedience to the Lord’s command? On a level deeper than the greatness of Abraham’s obedience to God, the patriarch can be said to be truly devoted to God because he gave like God.
St. Paul reminds the Roman Christians of how God gives all to us in His Son Jesus Christ: “He who did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all, how will He not also give us everything else along with Him.” Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice His only son is a reflection and image of God’s own goodness in offering us the gift of us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, without a guarantee that we would love Him in return. The patriarchs’ authentic devotion to God is manifested not so much in what he was willing to give as in his giving just like God gives.
Why can’t we have true devotion if we lack the will to imitate the one we claim to be devoted to? This is so because the union of love necessarily demands resemblance i.e. true love has the power and ability to make a lover become like the beloved. True love renders the lover similar to the beloved so that we become like what we are truly devoted to. In being truly devoted to God, we begin to act in a God-like way irrespective of what we might get in return.
Today’s Gospel passage of the Transfiguration shows us Jesus on His resolute journey to His complete gift of Himself to the Father on the Cross. Irrespective of Peter’s reluctance to journey with Him to Calvary (see Mk 8:32), or of His glorious transfiguration, or of the edifying conversation with Moses and Elijah, or of Peter’s generous offer to make three tents, Jesus is determined to give all of Himself even to death so as to be raised by His Father. The Father’s exclamation, “This is my beloved Son” affirms Jesus as His truly devoted Son who Himself gives all just like His Father gives all. The Father’s instruction, “Listen to Him” points Jesus Christ to us as the one who leads us in this way of being truly devoted children of God, people who act like God in all conditions.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we embark on this Lenten Season, let us examine our Lenten devotional practices. Since all our religious practices are meant to bring us to resemble Christ Jesus ever more closely, we must ask ourselves this simple question, “How are these devotions making me more like Christ whom I choose to be devoted to?” How are the ash marks of Ash Wednesday, the weekly Stations of the Cross, prayers, fasting, almsgiving, etc. making me more humble, obedient, forgiving, loving, and patient in imitation of Christ? Our devotional practices can never be complete until Christ’s example begins to shine out to others loud and clear.
Having a devotion to Mary has been a great grace or me in my life. It is by looking to Mary that I received the grace of conversion to Jesus Christ and a sustained desire to know Him more intimately and to serve Him in His Church in good and in bad times like Mary did. Through Mary’s intercession, I have experienced temporal blessings and guidance in my life’s decisions. I know that I could never be a priest today if I did not have the constant support, graces and guidance that Mary obtains for me.
But I was particularly struck many years ago when I read St. Louis De Montfort’s masterpiece called True Devotion to Mary. In his book, the saint said that two outstanding marks of marks of authentic devotion to Mary are disinterestedness and imitation of Mary. The saint teaches us that that for our devotion to be authentic, we had to draw closer to Mary not because of what we hoped to get from her but that an authentic devotion to Mary had to lead to our striving to imitate Mary in her personal holiness and attitude towards God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and others. There is no authentic devotion to Mary without a firm resolution to imitate Mary.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we can find no better guide and companion in the journey to true devotion to Christ Jesus than His own Mother Mary. If we are blown away by Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice His only son, we have a much more powerful example in Mary’s willingness to offer her own perfect Son for us on the Cross too as she stood on Calvary in complete consent to the divine will to sacrifice His Son for us. Indeed, we can say that, like God, she too freely handed over her one and only true son for us. What a devotion? We have a truly devoted mother to help us be truly devoted children of God. With Mary as a companion, we can be disciples who act like Christ in all conditions and circumstances.
In our Eucharistic encounter with Christ today, we receive His grace and His love. The love that He offers us is the love that filled His truly devoted heart. This is the love that shapes and molds us so that we become more and more similar to Christ Himself in our actions and attitudes.
May our Eucharistic celebrations never be mere devotional practices but steps towards a closer imitation of Christ. If we let Christ strengthen our wills to imitate Him better, our actions will be so pleasing to God that we shall merit to be called truly devoted sons and daughters of God in Jesus Christ, the truly devoted Son of God.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!