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User's Guide to Sunday, March 16
BY Tom and April Hoopes
Sunday, March 16, is the Second Sunday of Lent.
March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. Our favorite DVD to watch on this day is Patrick: Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle, a cartoon our children love from CCC of America (available at EWTNReligiousCatalogue.com).
March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph. We love Holy Heroes CDs, including Glory Stories Vol. 3, with its story of St. Joseph. Buy it online and check out their Lenten resources at HolyHeroes.com.
Genesis 12:1-4; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9
In the second week of Lent, the Church presents us with a beginning and an end.
The beginning comes in the first reading. God speaks to Abraham, while he is still called Abram, at the very beginning of his journey — and at the beginning of salvation history.
"Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you," says God. "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you."
Then comes the very direct biblical description of what Abram did: "Abram went as the Lord directed him." His story shows the wonder of God when his people follow him.
Likewise, the Gospel tells the story of another end: the ultimate meaning and fulfillment of Jesus’ journey.
The Gospel says: "Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light."
This reveals the real glory that is always present in Jesus: He is always a luminous being and truly God.
The Church wants to remind us of this as we begin Lent. The "end" of Lent is Easter, but the "end" of our sacrifice — our fasting, prayer and almsgiving — is the full realization of the glory we have in Christ.
At the end of Lent, we should be closer to Christ.
St. Paul, in the second reading, makes this point.
He says, "Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God … not according to our works."
Paul says that the "end" we strive for is "the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began," since he "destroyed death and brought life."
So this Lent, begin with the end in mind.
If we stay faithful to our Lenten sacrifices by living in conformity with the will of the Father and the witness of the Son and the love of the Spirit, we have much to look forward to — not a better version of ourselves, but a luminous version of Jesus Christ, living in us by grace.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.