ENCOURAGING AFFIRMATION

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SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT

A friend of mine, who is a community teacher, told me that his father was a Muslim leader (imam) in his community. Because this teacher always attended catholic school, he loved Christianity, and finally was baptised just two years ago by me when he was already a teacher. According to him, it was a long process of learning and struggling to be a Christian, but I can see, he is a committed Catholic, so far. In his community he finds that some new young baptised members are becoming weak in the midst of their Muslim family and friends. But looking at his own experience of how he was becoming a Christian, he understands the difficulty experienced by the new young Christians. After a faith-filled sharing  one evening, he resolved to continue encouraging his fellow Christians to face the challenges of their faith.

The reading of this 2nd Sunday of Lent helps us to realise the important of encouraging affirmation in our life. In the first reading (Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18), God tested Abraham: how courageous his faith was by asking him to sacrifice his only son. Abraham responded to God’s test with faith, and his obedience to God was rewarded.  The voice of God stopped him from killing his son. Instead, Abraham offered a ram as a sacrifice. The voice of God is an encouraging affirmation for Abraham’s faith. “Abraham... I know now how devoted you are to God.”

In the gospel (Mk 9:2-10), the appearance of Jesus on Mount Tabor to his chosen disciples was a transforming moment in their lives. Jesus appeared to his disciples in glory when the cross was looming large over his head. The experience on the mountain gave encouragement to Jesus, who was setting his face towards the cross. He voluntarily accepted the cross. God’s Son went ahead to die on the cross so that his disciples could have fullness of life. To the shocked disciples this confirmed the necessity of the cross revealed through the conversation of the heavenly visitors about Christ’s “departure” as well as the divine endorsement of Christ’s teaching. When they heard the voice of the Father: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him!” they felt an encouraging affirmation. That encouraging affirmation prepared them to follow Jesus on his way to the cross until his resurrection.

As missionary disciples, we are called to be sensitive to the many signs of God’s encouraging affirmation in our journey so that we can walk humbly before him and be courageous at the same time. The Lent season helps us to learn how to walk before the Lord in the land of the living:  I believed, even when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” (Ps 116). ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31b) is another line which gives us consolation and courage in our missionary journey, wherever God calls us.

As missionary disciples, we are not only to be sensitive to the signs of God’s encouraging affirmation, but also to be messengers of the same affirmation for our fellow pilgrims on this earth. I can learn from that community teacher who finds joy when he resolves to continue encouraging his fellow Christians. Amid the challenges of life, our faith can shine transfiguring our daily duties and responsibilities. May Jesus allow us to join Peter, James and John, experiencing his transfiguration in our daily life.