In the course of daily life, it is so easy to look for God in certain places, with a particular lens, and expecting to see something familiar or affirming. Like Peter, James, and John, I often seek to cover up, distance, or contain those things which surpass or defy my very limited vision.
Today’s readings seem to suggest that it is exactly in the unexpected places that God breaks through our preconceived notions for unexpected purposes. God orders Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Just at the last moment, God stays Abraham’s hand saving Isaac’s life and blessing countless descendants rather than ending his line. Atop the mountain with Jesus, his close disciples have perhaps come to believe that they alone have completely understood him, only to literally see him anew. Inspired by the encounter, Jesus encourages them to keep this experience to themselves rather than spreading this particular experience before the proper time.
St. Paul reminds the Romans that God, who handed over God’s own son, is with us and for us in all things. The question for me is, am I open enough to hear, courageous enough to respond? During this season of Lent, the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving provide an invitation to open myself to the countless ways that God breaks into my own life. Pope Francis has asked, “Am I attached to my things, to my ideas, closed? Or am I open to the God of surprises?”
Such openness is difficult and requires practice, community, and a dependence on the Living God. As the disciples struggled with the unbelievable possibility of the “rising of the Son of Man”. May this Lent be time when we receive and respond to God’s love in ways we might never have imagined.