Back in 1901-1902, William James gave the Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion at Edinburgh, Scotland. Among his insights from those lectures that relates to our readings for this Second Sunday of Lent is the following:
“We and God have business with each other; and in opening ourselves to his influence our deepest destiny is fulfilled” (507).
The business between God and Abram had major consequences. It led to the formation of a covenant that shaped a great quantity of human history. Judaism continues to influence the thoughts and behavior of countless individuals. The richness of the Old Testament presents to us God’s plan of salvation. Just to be familiar with the book of Psalms or the work of the prophets is a treasure. Abram’s covenant and the writings of the Old Testament shape our deepest destiny.
St. Paul’s letter to Timothy is a reminder of our Christian lifestyle. We are to bear our share in the cross of Jesus; we are called to a holy life; we are called to participate in the life and love of Jesus Christ. If we live a Christian life, we will be instruments of life and light, as Paul was. Elsewhere (Gal 5:22), St. Paul tells the Galatians about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. If these are present in our words and deeds and in our heart, we have authentic evidence that we are love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, patience, trustworthiness, gentleness and self-control.
When Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up the mountain, he was accompanied by individuals whose ears and hearts were in training. The song they were given and the love they were offered were beyond their reach. Yet over time, they would come to know the meaning of the transfiguration and how Jesus was truly the glory of God. Once the disciples’ ears were opened and their hearts were stirred, there was no stopping them.
Religious experiences are of great variety. Abram came to know a God of promises; St. Paul knew a God-incarnate; Peter, James and John realized that Jesus was the prophet and the fulfillment of the law. During this season of Lent, God will conduct business with each of us. Hopefully, we will recognize his coming and respond to whatever the Lord asks.
Questions for reflection
1. What are two or three major religious experiences in your life?
2. What business have you had with God?
3. What evidence do you have that you are a Christian?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.