Do you remember the story of the chaplain visiting a terminally ill patient? The chaplain was making his rounds at a hospital. He visited a patient who had only a few more hours to his death. Before praying for the patient, the chaplain asked if there were any specific intentions he would like to include in the prayer. In response, the patient summoned his little energy and began to say, “You see, this terminal illness has taught me one important lesson.” Seeing that he paused, the chaplain interjected, “Hmmm, one important lesson?” The patient continued, “Yes, this illness has taught me that life is not like a movie you watch on the screen.” The chaplain was unsure what that meant, so he gently asked, “How so?” The patient explained, “You see, when you watch a movie, you can rewind and watch the interesting parts as often as you like; you can skip the parts you don’t like. But in life, you must go through all the scenes – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And the most comforting part is that God is in all of them. God was there when I was born. God was there when I was that handsome, well-built college kid everyone loved to hang out with. God was there when I was the boss in my office. God is here now that I have lost my physical handsomeness. And I will meet God when I leave this flesh and blood. What matters most to me now is that God is in it.”

Today is the Second Sunday of Lent. The readings for today’s Mass all point to the message: God is all that matters. In other words, if God is in your story, keep going; it will be well with you. In the second reading, St. Paul puts it like this: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Paul built his argument on the foundation that if God willingly gave us his only Begotten Son, what else will be too much for God to do for us? If God is part of our story, rest assured that no matter what may be going on now, all will be well.

In the first reading, God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Remember how long Abraham and Sarah waited to have a child? Remember, this son, Isaac, was the one through whom God was going to fulfill his promise of making Abraham the father of many nations. Yet, God asked Abraham to sacrifice this same son. How would Abraham have announced to Sarah after the trip up the mountain that he just sacrificed their only son? What would the neighbors have said about Abraham? How would the promise of many descendants be fulfilled for Abraham, who was way past the age of bearing children? Humanly speaking, nothing makes sense in this story; nothing adds up in this story. As young as he was, Isaac noticed how the story did not make sense. Confused, he asked his father, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” Abraham replied, “God will provide.”

Imagine the faith! God already told him that he would sacrifice Isaac, but Abraham strongly believed that as long as God was in the story, that was all that mattered; as long as God was in the story, in the end, all would be well. Abraham, like Paul, believed that if God is for us, nothing can be against us. He said, “God will provide.” True to his faith, just at the last moment, when it seemed all would be lost, God provided, and Isaac was redeemed.

In the Gospel passage, shortly after the apostles, led by Peter, wanted to prevent Jesus from going to the cross, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the mountain where Jesus was transfigured. The transfiguration taught the apostles that if God is for us, nothing can be against us; if God is in the story, all will certainly end well. The preface for this Mass says, “For after he had told the disciples of his coming Death, on the holy mountain he manifested to them his glory, to show, even by the testimony of the law and the prophets, that the passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection.” My dearly beloved in Christ, life is a complete package; life is in phases. I do not know what phase you are experiencing at this time. Maybe everybody is turning against you for some unexplainable reason. Be sure that you do not lose God. Perhaps you have lost or are about to lose your source of income, position, or a relationship that means the world to you. Ensure that God is still part of your story, and he will provide for you. On this Second Sunday of Lent, I unite all our crosses with the sufferings of Christ so that we may share in his victory and glory in this life, and in the life to come through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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