He is one of three sons, sons of the same father. They live in the same house, on the same land. Since they are three, their father is going to divide the inheritance into three. He is not getting any younger, just like his father is also not getting any younger. In a few years to come, he will get his own inheritance from his father. He is already planning his life. He knows the town very well; he knows the people. He already has his plans. He knows those he can trust in business, and he knows those he must avoid. He knows the times and the seasons. He knows the best time to sell, and he knows the best time to buy. It is a safe place for him, he can already envision his future. And then from nowhere, God shows up, and calls him, “Abram, Abram, leave your fatherland and go to the land I will show to you.”
That was how it all started. Thinking about it, I wonder: do they not say, “If it ain’t broken, why fix it?” I thought they also say, “A bird at hand is worth two in the Bush.” The last time I checked, Abram did not complain about the quality of his life and the land. I did not hear him raise any complain against his father’s house. So, why this interruption?
Many years later, someone else is doing well as a fisherman. He has his own apprentices. His business is booming. His customers know him, and he knows them well. Just as he is about to expand his business and open more branches, then from nowhere, a Carpenter’s son comes to him and says, “Leave your fishing business, follow me, and I will make you a different kind of fisherman.” Why this interruption? The last time I checked, the fisherman has not put out any application for a new job. Yet, came this interruption. Simon Peter welcomes the interruption, and he begins to follow the son of a carpenter.
All seems to be going well, and just at the point he is becoming comfortable, the carpenter’s son says, “We are going up to Jerusalem where I will be betrayed to the people in power. They will torture me and kill me.” “Wait, what?” Peter thinks out loud. “Is that why you got me out of my successful fishing career? No, that won’t work!” Peter’s reaction qualifies him for a hike up the mountain with the Carpenter’s son, along with two other associates. Peter met him as the carpenter’s son, he proclaimed him the Messiah, but he did not know what that meant. Now on the mountain, the voice from heaven makes it clear to Peter that before the Messiah became the son of a carpenter, he has always been the Beloved Son of God. In this vision, Peter sees the life beyond Jerusalem. He then begins to plan to build an estate on the mountain, he cannot let this pass him by. Then comes another interruption, Peter must let go of his plan of building an estate on the mountain; the only way to realize the vision he saw is to go through Jerusalem.
Abram was very comfortable in his fatherland based on his reckoning when God interrupted him. As a reward for his acceptance of God’s invitation, God gave him, in place of his fatherland, a new land, God made him the father of many nations. Peter gave up his fishing business, and in place of that, he became the foundation on which Jesus built his Church, and he gained eternal life. God is truly in the interruption.
We are in the season of Lent. As part of our Lenten observance, we give up many things. In giving up things, we think more of vices. But Abram gave up his fatherland, which was not sinful. He gave up his family, which was not sinful. Peter also gave up his fishing business, which was not sinful. Both gained their reward, something better. On this second Sunday of Lent, we are walking to the eternal Jerusalem. This is the time we train ourselves to give things up. It is a time we learn to welcome interruptions, for God is in the interruptions.
My dearly beloved in Christ, in your education, what is that interruption that is coming your way? In your job, in your businesses, in your relationships, what is that interruption in your way? While on the mountain, the voice came from heaven and said, regarding Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” Listening is our response to God. No matter the form of interruption you are facing in your life now, listen to him. If he’s asking you to give up something even when that thing is not a bad thing, listen to him! God will not tell you to let go of something if he does not have something better ahead for you. Maybe you have already made-up your plans about your education, your job, your business, and your relationship, still listen to him, he has greater plans for you. No wonder they say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen also says, “When we go to heaven, we are going to thank God, not only for the prayers he answered, but also for the prayers he did not answer, because at that point, we will know why. Remember, “When one door closes, a better one opens.” But the challenge with us is, when one door closes, we focus so much on the closed door that we do not realize the better door that has been opened for us. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us as we listen to the voice of God even in difficult moments, through Christ our Lord. Amen.