Lenten reflection: Week 2

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Fr Cosmas Lee anointing the catechumens on the Second Sunday of Lent. – pix by Douglas Yu

‘The greatest of all mysteries is the mystery of Jesus Christ’

“AS Catholic Christians, there is a word that we must understand. That word is ‘mystery’. It is mentioned in every Mass; it is a very important word to St Paul in all his letters; it is a word we find in all Church prayers – mystery (from the Greek’s ‘mysterion’).

year of mercy logo
Second of a series: Lenten reflection by Fr Cosmas Lee on the Second Sunday of Lent. Read the first part HERE.

It helps us not to make an effort to understand since it is a mystery. A mystery always has something hidden. Something hindered from its mere surface, as it appears. But mystery is the fullness of the reality when it is revealed by God to us. Everything is a mystery.

The whole of existence, the universe, creation – everything is a mystery. It’s beyond what can be seen by the telescopes. Human person, life itself, is a mystery. The fullness of its meaning, its nature, its purpose, is beyond what appears at the surface.

Its fullness of truth, the full reality, can only be grasped by the  revelation of God in Christ Jesus. In the life of the Church there are many mysteries, a life that we live that is not just found on the Word, but founded on the sacraments which are signs that God uses, in order not just to reveal His love, mercy and salvation, but these are signs that God uses to make us take part in the mystery of His love, mercy and salvation.

Transfiguration of Christ

This way, (when) we look at water – it is not just for washing up. It is not just something that can kill us. It is not just something that our life depends. But it reveals God’s merciful love, for choosing us, killing the old person in us, raising us to new life as His sons and daughters. That is the mystery of Baptism.

In the Eucharist, the gifts of bread and wine are very often called mysteries because this is not just food, this is not just drink; this is to be the signs and reality of God’s love and mercy for us. It is the “body” and “blood” of Christ.

But the greatest of all mysteries is the mystery of Jesus Christ Himself. Because in Him, the chosen one, God reveals to us, in all things the purpose and nature of everything. In Jesus, we will see beyond the beauty of nature.

In Jesus, we will see beyond the mystery of ‘myself’. In Jesus, we will see the twists and turns and understand all things, especially those things that don’t go our way.

So brothers and sisters, in this Second Sunday of Lent, what is the mystery that we have come to celebrate? First, there are signs. Traditionally, the first Sunday in Lent, the sign is always the desert, where Jesus was tempted and came out victorious over the devil, a complete paradigm shift from what happens to every human being. Because every human being has succumbed to living by bread; because every human being has succumbed to testing God; because every human being worship so many idols in their life. But He came out victorious for us.

We are asked to celebrate the mystery of our redemption in Christ Jesus. From the desert of sin, of death, we now move to the Second Sunday of Lent and the sign of the second Sunday is the mountain.

From that desert of death, we are called to celebrate the mystery of God calling us to be raised to beyond our own destiny of sin and death, to be joined with Jesus, His chosen, beloved Son. In other words, through Baptism, each one of us has been invited into the mystery of being raised to be children of God.

outside church
Some of the crowd seen outside the Church.

In other words, our vocation as Christians is not just what appears. We’re much more than ourselves. We’re much more than what people say. The life we experience day-by-day… need to eat, need to sleep, need to get up, need to drink, need to study, need to work (cari makan)… much more than that.

Through this call to be divine, each one of us is transcendent. We’re not left to struggle in the desert. We’re called to climb the mountain and to be with Jesus as He is transfigured, transformed into the glory of God’s beloved one – that’s what we celebrate today.

And we must, once more, enter God’s love and mercy by calling us sinners, destined to die, not just to be saved but to share in the glory of God’s own Son, Jesus. So let’s reflect about this sacred vocation of each one of us.

We must know we are not just flesh and bones. We have, what we traditionally call, a soul. A soul made in God’s image; a soul that is divine; a soul that God has sent His son to redeem and to be given to us this inheritance of Divine Destiny.

No matter how much we have sinned, brothers and sisters,  we have not lost that call to ‘climb’ in our life. Never mind if everyday the world tells us: ‘Hey, be on earth-lah‘. People say, ‘down-to-earth’ – that’s the best philosophy of life. Down-to-earth means, ‘come on, get attached to the earth; play the games… in our studies, work, businesses’.

All these are philosophies that are worldly. But Paul, in the second reading says that the (worldly) things that we worship, that we should be ashamed about – that’s not worth of our call because we allow ourselves to be bogged down by the earth. We’re called to go up the mountain. So remember, don’t say we cannot survive unless we play the games out there.

Today, we are also asked to reflect on the mystery of God’s mercy – that mercy that is committed, faithful to the end. You heard the story of Abram who was promised by God to have children ‘as many as the stars’. Abram was asked to raise his eyes to look up, to the heavens and count the stars.

We’ll never finish counting the stars – and that is the mystery of God’s love, mercy and wisdom. And when Abram doubted, God said, ‘take a little bull, goat, ram, pigeon… cut them all into half and you and I are going to seal a covenant (promise)… That if anyone of us should not be faithful to the promise, that we will like these animals be cut into half.’ And God showed that He accepted these terms that  He would die if He’s not faithful…

Moses and Elijah came up to the mountain to discuss Jesus’ passing, His death. We know that God has become faithful, committed to the end. And so the mystery of God’s mercy is the mystery of His faithfulness that we will never understand. If we just think about faithfulness’ ‘accountancy’, we would just define His mercy the way we’re used to in our experiences. We will never understand that unless we enter in reflection in faith.

So today, especially in this Year of Mercy, we are also asked to reflect on the mystery of God’s mercy – that is faithful, committed to the end; that defies human understanding of human mercy.

Later on, we will be anointing some catechumens for baptism. We are anointing them with another mystery – the mystery of oil that is no longer for cooking only, that is not only for beauty, that is not only for massage; but by the power of God, has become a sign that’s effective to strengthen them to see the mystery of Jesus – to be strengthened by the Lord that they would believe in the faithfulness of God as they enter into intensive preparation for the sacraments of initiation

So brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the mystery of the transfiguration of Jesus, let us be there on the mountain. Let us listen to the voice that came from Heaven that said, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One, listen to Him’.

Let’s listen much more attentively to Him, throughout Lent, so that in the Lord Jesus, we will begin to understand all mysteries, especially the wonder of God’s mystery – to call us to leave the desert, to climb the mountain and to assure us that we will reach the summit not by our strength or by our righteousness but by the help of His mercy.”

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