I think that two words sum up what we are being told today in our Liturgy of the Word: WAKE UP. There is a lot of waking up going on: Abram falls into a deep trance and is enveloped in terrifying darkness, he then wakes up to see God ratifying the covenant. The disciples on the mountain have fallen asleep as Jesus prayed, and they wake up to see our Transfigured Lord conversing with Moses and Isaiah – symbols of the Law and the Prophets.
We too are called to wake up. We too have once been enveloped in a terrifying darkness. The light of the Gospel and the joy of the sacraments banishes that darkness, if we but move forward in faith. The problem is that so many times we get dragged back into that darkness. It’s so easy to return to sinful ways, bad habits, patterns of brokenness, the shame of addiction. We want what we don’t need. We seek easy answers rather than work through the tough times. We make Gods out of success, and money, and pleasure, rather than honor the God who compassions us through failure, poverty and pain. We see to all our own creature comforts with little regard for the poor, oppressed and marginalized. We return over and over and over again to the terrifying darkness of sin in thought, word, and deed. Lent reminds us that we cannot survive living that way. We must confess our sins and wake up to be children of light.
Waking up to the call of God in our lives, we are called to be light to others. We have to be willing then to inconvenience ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom of God. God’s compassion has been poured out on us so that we can then be compassionate to others. That compassion demands that we have concern for every person God puts in our path, that we take time out of our busy and hectic schedules to listen to a hurting coworker or look in on a sick neighbor. God’s love has been poured out on us so that we can love as he has loved us. That love demands that we discipline children with patience, that we honor and respect our parents, that we go the extra mile to share the gifts we have been given. We must wake up to live as God’s people.
We are a people who have been given so much. God has reached out to us in great love and mercy and has taken the initiative to form a covenant with us, first with the sacrifice of Abraham, and in the last days through the blood of Jesus, poured out on the altar of the Cross. We deserve none of this, because we as a people and as individuals have turned away from God over and over again. But over and over again, God has sung to our spirit, giving us grace, and called us to be sons and daughters of light. But we have to wake up and receive it.