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Engaging the Word: Sunday, March 1st

Readings from Sunday, March 1st:
1st Reading: Genesis 22: 1-2, 9-18
Responsorial: Psalms 116: 10, 15-19
2nd Reading: Romans 8: 31-34
Gospel: Mark 9: 2-10

St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, concludes his Spiritual Exercises with a prayer known as the Suscipe (pronounced Soo shi pay). In that prayer the one making the exercises prays:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my under-standing, and my entire will, all I have and call my own.
You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace; that is enough for me.
When I made the Spiritual Exercises as a Jesuit novice I remember praying that prayer over and over, eventually getting irritated at God. “Lord,” I said, “I keep offering you all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, and all I have and call my own, and I still have it!” Sitting back in exasperation, I realized that God wants me to have all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, and all I have and call my own, but at the same time to be free of it. In getting to the point of trusting God with all I possessed I wound up truly having what I was offering and the graces that they carried for the first time.

I think that this is the point of the rather terrifying story of Abraham and Isaac we hear in the first reading this Sunday. It is in recognizing that all we have comes from a loving God and finding the freedom to put it all back into God’s hands that we truly receive the gifts that God is offering us.

To make the offering of the Suscipe it takes faith and trust, and that’s what we pray for in the Psalm this week. It also takes courage. Our reading from Romans reminds us this week that if we are on the side of love and justice, we have nothing to fear: “If God is for us, who can stand against us?”

In the Gospel we hear of the Transfiguration. The closest disciples of Jesus see him for who he really is; they catch a glimpse of eternity through time. The reading also foreshadows the the suffering and death that awaits Jesus. I think it paired with the other reading to show that Jesus too need-ed human faith and courage to be true to himself and his mission. That he found that faith and courage and took a position in line with love and justice as a human being, disposes us to receive the gifts of faith and courage so that we too might stand at the side of God.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let’s pray for the grace of faith, let’s look to Jesus for instruction and courage, and through our loving action let’s open our eyes to catch a glimpse of eternity in time.

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