Everything. That is the one word for me that sums up our reading this second Sunday of Lent.
If I am honest with myself, I don’t think I have ever lived that – everything.
Sure, I give a lot. I try and sacrifice. I pour out my heart and soul into being the best priest I know how, but everything? Not really.
I need my time, I tell myself. I need to unplug from the phone calls and emails and the “I only need a few minutes of your time, Father,” that I know usually means way more than a few minutes.
I want my pleasures, my wants and my ego to be satisfied, at least in some fashion.
Everything? Not really.
Yet that is what God asks of Abraham and what Abraham gives. Isaac embodied everything that God had promised. Now God asks Abraham to give it back freely, to sacrifice everything he had ever hoped for and all he had received – in willing obedience to God.
God is saying to Abraham, “Do you love me enough to give everything I gave to you back to me?”
Everything. This is the core question of discipleship: what does God ask of us? Just how sovereign is God in our lives? To give everything?
I am much more like Peter. I want to hang out where and when things are good. I want to stay here things are comfortable, glorious and awesome. I don’t want to go down the mountain, into the suffering, the pain, the uncertainty of everyday discipleship. What about you?
We all need those mountain-top experiences to help us follow Jesus.
Jesus is the Father’s only begotten Son. He who is one with the Father is the one who will give everything for us because God so loves us. The Father will sacrifice his only Son on our behalf in the incredible inversion of ancient understandings of gods and creatures.
St. Paul boldly turns the Abraham story inside out. He proclaims what God offers us. He compares God to Abraham. God, who owes us nothing sacrifices everything for us.
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will God not also give us everything else along with him?”
We are totally undeserving. Jesus, who underwent his horrible passion and death at the hand of sinful humanity, now intercedes for us sinners. God just won’t quit! God won’t ever give up on us.
None of us come close to this kind of love, this “everything” love. Yet, this is what we are made for, if only we remain faithful and do what the Father asks of Peter, James and John and us: “Listen to him.”
Listen to Jesus. Listen not just every once in a while, not just on Sunday or Ash Wednesday or Easter.
If ever we want to experience “transfiguration” of our lives, then we need to listen to Jesus every day in prayer, in sacred scripture, in the sacraments and in each other.
One special way that I invite you to listen to Jesus is in Adoration. Fifteen years ago in Lent, 2003, we committed as a parish to 24/7 Adoration of the Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
We committed to making every moment of every day a gift of grateful thanksgiving back to God through Jesus. Not that the Lord needed anything from us, but rather to acknowledge that we need everything from him, that we are totally dependent on the Lord.
So we come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and offer him all our prayer, praise, honor, glory as well as our needs, petitions and cries for help. It is in Adoration that we are most privileged to “listen to him.”
I deeply believe that 24/7, “everything” Adoration, has been a unique blessing to Saint Michael parish. It has strengthened us at the core of who we are, in deepest intimacy, and has enabled us to accomplish many incredible things and beautiful ministries for the kingdom of God. It is no accident that many look to Saint Michael parish as a model.
To those of you who have made a commitment to spend an hour each week in Adoration, I thank you.
To those of you who come by to pray, to sit in silence, to intercede and to listen to Jesus, I thank you. I also want to ask you to consider making a weekly commitment so that we can assure the fullness of 24/7 “everything” Adoration.
To those of you who have yet to be blessed by stopping by for prayer and Adoration, I offer an invitation and a gift that will transform and transfigure your life.
Though many of us come and pray personally, rather than understanding Adoration as a “single’s event” as in the Olympics, I’d like to suggest that 24/7 Adoration is more a “team sport.” It is more like a relay race where we hand off the parish and the parishioner’s needs to the next person coming to adore and that we have been running this race with gratitude since Lent, 2003.
Many adorers from those first years are now dead. Yet they are interceding for us in heaven. We desire to carry on their legacy and their desire that we become a people of “everything,” who strive to surrender more and more to the will of God, listening intently before the Blessed Sacrament.
There will be some folks in the back after Mass to share more with you about Adoration and you can pick up this card for contact information.
We also want to give you an invitation. Take a red ribbon after Mass as an invitation to spend time in Adoration this Lent. When you come, tie it to the barren branch in the chapel. There will be extra ribbons in the Adoration Chapel. Then every time you return, take another and tie it on the tree.
If it is your first time for a visit in Adoration, take a gold ribbon and tie it to the tree as well. This is a simple way of expressing our love for Jesus who gave his everything for us.
One final thought: the next time you make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration, pray those words of St. Peter, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” May this be our prayer on our Lenten journey.