Do We Give Control to God?

Our first reading today comes from Genesis 12 where the story of Abram, who God would later rename “Abraham.” Before this passage, the only mention of Abraham is his genealogy presented in Genesis 11:10-32.

These four verses in today’s first reading tell us two very profound things about Abraham. First, that he has been chosen by God. God tells him, “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.” God doesn’t tell him where the land is. God doesn’t tell him what to do when he gets there. God gives no reason why. God simply promises that He will make a great nation from Abraham, that Abraham’s name will become great, and that God will bless him.

What is Abraham’s response? “Abram went as the LORD directed him.” The second thing that we learn about Abraham is that he is a man of very great faith. He doesn’t ask any questions. It is enough that God tells him to go.

Would you have responded like Abraham? Do you follow the Lord’s way or the way of the world? Be honest. The way of the world can be tempting for its immediate physical pleasures. The immediate pleasures of the world are short-lived. The joy of following the Lord may not always be felt immediately but it is eternal.

Abraham knows that all the works of the Lord are trustworthy. Many of the false gods called for their devotees to do things that were good for the false god. Our one true God asks nothing of us for his own gain or pleasure. He has nothing to gain from us. God is infinite. He can’t gain anything. He is all-loving. So, all that He prescribes for us is for our betterment.

Still, it is not always easy to follow the Lord. Today we hear Paul write to Timothy, “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” It will be hard. Look at what Jesus went through for us in his Passion. He bore incredible hardship for us. We do well to bear our hardships for the glory of God and the salvation of all.

Just as God chose Abraham, He has chosen us to be his children. He calls us to a “holy life.” Do we accept the call? The answer to this question is found in whether we live according to our own way or in accord with God’s design.

Jesus knew it would be hard for his disciples to endure all that laid before them. He knew He needed to give them confidence to bear the hardships that laid ahead for them.

With this in mind, “Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.” This was no ordinary trip up the mountain. Jesus took them with him so that would see him “transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as flesh.

They saw Jesus as we will see him in Heaven, in his glory. The imagine of the “white” and “light” is not new. The image of white comes from Daniel 7:9 while Daniel 10:6 speaks of “light.” Daniel is describing the Ancient One, God. Jesus appears to Peter, James, and John in a way that is used to describe God. We can trust in Jesus for He is the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father.

The scene did not end there. Moses and Elijah would appear and speak with Jesus. Why? The presence of Moses symbolizes the Law. The presence of Moses tells us Jesus comes to fulfill the Law. We can trust in him. Elijah is one of the great prophets. His presence confirms that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies. He is the one they have been waiting for.

Peter responds, “Lord, it is good that we are here.” Peter is right. It is good that they were there to see what happened. It would give them confidence. It helps us to know who Jesus is.

There is one more piece of evidence offered to who Jesus is, the voice from the cloud, God’s own voice, that says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.

Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John up the mountain with them to give them confidence. Was their confidence immediate? We are told that they then “they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.” I don’t think their fear was a matter of being scared. It was holy fear. They understood in that moment who God is. Their fear was awe of God. They did not yet understand but they would come to.

Do we understand? If we fully understand, then we will follow God in all his ways. Unfortunately, many today think they can pick and choose what to believe. We call them “Cafeteria Catholics.” If they don’t like a teaching, they say it is out of date. It happens with various commandments but perhaps the most prevalent is sexual behavior. God’s Truth does not change. (If you are up for some reading, see my 17 page article, “Towards Dignity and Truth: Compassionate Dialogue on Homosexuality”)

We may not understand all the God teaches us. We don’t have to understand it all. We have faith. We rely on “strength that comes from God” to help us bear our hardships whether we understand or not. We desire to follow Jesus.


Fr. Jeff

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