Reflection for Sunday, February 24, 2002: 2nd week in Lent.

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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
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Figures assist us in feeling secure, giving us a sense of control, and pleasing our senses. "The Bottom Line" is a financial or mathematical number. Having the correct figures can be a cause for having the power. Various physical figures can please our artistic and human sensibilities. Various shapes and figures of road signs can instruct drivers in their directions and speed. Just think about all the expressions which use the word, "figure." They all imply a sense of security, even the figures of speech.||Abram has a wife, slaves, kinfolks, possessions, and land. One would say that he cuts a good figure considering all this. In today's First Reading, The Lord, seemingly speaks to Abram, but does so from the Beyond and not according to our ways of communicating and knowing. Abram hears a call to go to another land where he will be blest and his descendants will be blest as well. There is something very important hidden in this. Posterity is more important in Genesis and the Hebrew tradition, the land one has or the goods one possesses.|When the Lord says that there will be blessings upon "you," it is less a blessing simply upon the person of Abram, and more a blessing upon the human seed of Abram and the fertility which will spring from his faith and his loins. The Lord will do all this if Abram can let go of figuring it all out, even though he has not seen the Bottom Line|The Gospel is the story of the Transfiguring of Jesus. There is a certain sense here of "now you see Him, now you don't." There are present some biblical signs such as their being on top of a hill or mountain and the two figures from Hebrew Scripture.|Amidst all these goings on, Jesus changes form, not totally though, Peter wants to secure the area. Peter would feel better if there were permanence and stability by building structures. How humanly wonderful. It would be good for him to possess the experience and hold on to it in more than memory.|While Peter is making his modest proposal, he and his two companions are brought face down on the earth by an unseen voice and the cloud which takes Jesus out of the picture. The voice announces the Name as well as their response, "listen to Him." Peter wanted security and God's response is fog, but also an assuring word which they can hear and understand. The problem is that if they listen to Jesus they will always be heading for more fog.|The fog lifts and Jesus is the only figure they see and He is touching them and telling them to get up and fearlessly move back down the mountain.|Believing is seeing after all and we are invited this Second Sunday of Lent to continue seeing in the fog of faith. There is an historic "culture of mobility" in much of scripture and in today's readings. Jesus is "upward mobile" of course and His going up this mountain is also a prefigurement of His journey to Calvary. Abram, Peter James and John go up and come down moving as acts of faith.|In his first letter, Uncle Screwtape writes to his nephew, Wormwood, that as devils, the very first thing they want to to impress upon their clients (humanity), is the importance of the familiar. C. S. Lewis writes of the many ways humans can be trapped not to trust or even listen to God, in his book, "Screwtape Letters." For the most part, they all center around the human experience of fear's needing support, such as building three tents or building a big bank account. The importance of the familiar and regular and secure is that we would not have to trust, because we have hold of a comforting figure. Abram and Jesus are the mysterious figures for us this week of Lent. Maybe if we were lying face down, we might say, "Go ahead without me, I'm building my tent." Jesus walked in as much faith as that to which He calls us. It never says that He saw the speaker of the words here or at His baptism either. He goes up this hill as He will the next in absolute trust in what He, like Abram, has heard. He, as with Abram, will be the cause of new and eternal blessings for all His descendants, the whole human family.|"Let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you. Ps. 13
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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