“We did not happen to be, we were chosen by God to exist.” -Mother
Today’s first reading tells the story of David’s anointing
as King of Israel. Young David, the least of his brothers, is not even included
when Jesse’s sons are called together by the prophet Samuel. Can’t you just
picture David dancing with joy in a meadow, singing songs of praise to God
while watching over the sheep, when his father sends for him? No one would have
been more surprised than David himself. But God, who sees the heart, choses His
beloved son David to be king, above all his impressive-looking brothers.
Appearances can be deceiving.
In the Gospel reading, appearances also deceive the
disciples, who, upon seeing the blind man begging by the roadside, ask Jesus, "Rabbi,
who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Jesus replies, saying, "Neither he nor his parents
sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” He
then shows the glory of God by opening the eyes of the blind man, something
that was unheard of.
From before his birth, the blind man was chosen, just as
surely as David was chosen to lead Israel. His blindness was to serve the great
purpose of bringing many to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. This man
must have wondered why he must suffer blindness, poverty, and accusations of
sin, but in time, God revealed the purpose for his suffering, and restored him
In the same way we can be sure that God created each of us,
with whatever shortcomings and disabilities we may have, for a greater purpose.
You have been chosen by God to exist, just as you are, no matter how humble or
obscure, and you were born at this very time in history for a reason. Trust in
God, offer Him all your sufferings and doubts about yourself, and be willing to
fulfill the plan He has for you.
God loves us so much that He came to us as a human being,
subject to the same pain and difficulties we all face, including hunger and
thirst, sorrow and loneliness. This is beautifully illustrated in today’s
Gospel story of the woman at the well. This woman has everything stacked
against her. As a woman, she is regarded as unworthy of notice by men. She is a
Samaritan, a race rejected by the Jews. She comes alone to the well at noon,
although most women would have gathered in the cool morning to draw water. Yet
Jesus - God himself - comes to her, lonely, tired, dusty, and thirsty, asking
for water. At first, she doesn’t understand why He is asking her. We never do
understand how much God thirsts for our friendship, our help, and our love. If
only we knew, we would ask Him for Living Water and all our own lonely, tired,
dusty, thirsty days would be washed clean and renewed.
Jesus knows all about her broken relationships with five
husbands. This woman has spent most of her life seeking love in all the wrong
places, yet Jesus chooses to offer her the Living Water of eternal life. Jesus
reveals that He is the Messiah and that she, lonely and rejected, is invited to
be part of the Divine Plan. She believes Him, and rushes to bring the good news
to her people, no longer fearful of condemnation, but boldly declaring that she
has met the Christ. By her witness, the villagers come to believe that Jesus is
the Savior of the World.
God has a plan and purpose for each of us. He knows your
deepest secrets and biggest mistakes and loves you still. He will fill up your loneliness
and invite you to discover what true love is. What can you do to comfort God,
who suffered thirst, loneliness, and death for you? He is asking for your help
and He longs for your love. Listen for His voice and do not fear: Jesus is calling
you. Will you take His message to your world?
By Andrey Ivanovich Ivanov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." ~ Mt 17:5
One thing I
love about today’s Gospel account of the Transfiguration is Peter’s reaction. I
can always count on Peter to react in a very human manner, just as I might
react myself. Witnessing this glimpse of the true glory of Jesus Christ leaves
Peter overwhelmed with joy, and he doesn’t want it to end. He wants to set up some
tents and stay there on the mountaintop with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, dwelling
in the presence of the living God.
But the time
has not yet come for entering into God’s glory eternally. There is work that
must still be done. Strengthened by what they have seen, Peter, James and John
are called to listen to the voice of God and follow His will. Again, Jesus
reminds them not to fear, no matter what might come. They must go down from the
mountaintop, ready to “bear their share of the hardship for the gospel with the
strength that comes from God” (2 Tm 1:8).
If you have
ever experienced a sublime moment when you become deeply aware of God’s
presence, you can easily sympathize with Peter’s desire. Those moments are
precious and don’t come often or remain long. But when the Lord sees that we
are in need of strength, He may give us the gift of a mountaintop experience of
our own. The heightened awareness of God’s presence in those rare moments will
bring us the strength we need to face whatever trials we must encounter.
Trust in God,
who will never fail to let us know He is with us in times of difficulty and
trials. Fear not, but listen closely for the voice of Jesus and seek to do the
will of the Father.
was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Mt 4:1
The Lord of
the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien is known and loved by generations of fans.
Some are not aware that Tolkien, a devout Catholic, once stated, “The Lord of
the Rings is… a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.”
mythical Middle Earth, hobbits are guileless creatures, devoted to family and
home. Few among them harbor great ambitions or suffer temptations for power or
riches. From them, Frodo Baggins is chosen to carry an evil ring of power to
its destruction. If returned to its evil creator, this ring will empower him to
rule the world. Many noble kings, elves, and wizards support Frodo in his task,
but they cannot do it for him. Each of them has ambitions which, while good in
themselves, can be corrupted by the evil ring and used to tempt them.
burden nearly overcomes him as the ring works its evil. But Frodo’s friend Sam,
a pure and simple hobbit, supports him throughout the journey. Sam briefly takes
up the ring when Frodo has fallen, even carrying Frodo himself at a critical
point in the journey. Sam’s devotion and his complete detachment from
temptation help Frodo succeed in his quest.
readings show how good desires can be corrupted by evil, if our focus is on the
good thing itself and not on the One who is good. Eve falls to temptation, desiring
wisdom over the Giver of wisdom. But Jesus resists Satan’s temptation, steadfastly focusing on God
alone: bread for the hungry is good, but the Word of God is the bread that
gives life; trust in God is good, but testing God is not trust; worship belongs
to God alone, even if all the riches of the world are offered in exchange for
As Lent begins,
we also must detach from good things that can become a temptation. Let us fix
our eyes on God alone as we fast from rich food, detach from wealth by giving
alms, and live chastely, humbly, and prayerfully in preparation for the real Return
of the King.