“The Lord said to Abram: ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing.”
The long road to Easter began with the Father’s invitation to Abram. The early chapters of Genesis recorded the consequences of sin: the disintegration of every relationship that makes us truly human and a deepening alienation from God. With his invitation to Abram God stepped into our history, opening the door to salvation and healing. Abram’s invitation would embrace first a people, the children of Israel, and then, through the Risen Lord, all the tribes of the earth.
The season of Lent shares much in common with the call of Abram. As Abram was called to leave his country and family for a land that the Lord would show him, so Lent invites us to abandon the home that sin has made in our lives, to make our home in the Risen Lord. With Abraham we travel in faith, not knowing the detail of all that lies ahead, but entrusting ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Like Abram departing from his father’s house, we must be prepared when we repent to leave behind the sinful attitudes that have become ingrained in our lives. The season of Lent, like Abram’s call, reveals the graciousness of God. Abram had done nothing to deserve the blessing of God’s promise. As sinners we have done nothing to deserve a place in Christ’s resurrection. Lent invites us to hear God’s call for ourselves, to abandon a life centred on self, to journey into a life with Christ.
True repentance is not easy. We need more than words to overcome the sinful attitudes of a lifetime. Abram was never alone in his journey. The God of Israel prepared the way before him, bringing him finally to the Land that his children would inherit. The Holy Spirit, who led Jesus into the wilderness, is the constant companion of our Lenten journey. The words of encouragement spoken to Timothy are words of encouragement for this penitential season: “Bear hardship for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy – not because of anything we ourselves have done, but for his own purpose and by his own grace.”
Lent does not consist in a lonely determination to do better; it is a reliance on the power of him who has saved us and called us to be holy.
The account of the Transfiguration of Jesus is both a turning point in the Gospel and a pointer for our Lenten journey. Jesus was about to begin the journey to Jerusalem that would end in his death and resurrection. It was important that his disciples understood both the difficulties that lay ahead, and what the end of their journey would be. The transfiguration of Jesus prefigured the glory that would be revealed in Christ at his resurrection. Those who had heard Christ acknowledged as the beloved Son would themselves become the sons of God in the power of his resurrection. Following the transfiguration the disciples began their journey to Jerusalem, trusting that Christ’s presence would transfigure their lives.
We begin our journey into Lent confident that the Christ who calls us to repentance already touches our hearts, transfiguring them into the glory that is his as the Son of the Father. With Abram long ago, we travel in hope.