Are you as confused and bewildered by these readings as I am? Or does the clarity of message just pop for you? Be honest!
As we just heard, even Peter, who was surely a flaming extrovert, quote “hardly knew what to say.” In one reading, God commands Abraham to show his loyalty and devotion by sacrificing his only son. Seriously? And in the other, a fantastical event that leaves Peter, James, and John dumbstruck, flabbergasted, and ready to put up tents! Really? To what end?
Lent has begun and we are invited to fast, pray and give alms.
It feels like Lent has been going on for the past year instead of just starting: what with COVID-19 and the deaths associated with it, quarantines of self or our whole family, social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks, closing the church to in person services, nightly demonstrations against racism, the destruction of Portland’s businesses, not gathering with family or friends, becoming zoom literate, the election of the President and Vice-President, the storming of the capitals in Washington DC and in Salem, and the disinformation put forth by those who want power and not democracy.
February is Black History Month. Makes sense then that we should all become familiar with at least a few Black Catholic heroes.
Pierre Toussant (1776-1853) was born a slave in Haiti and brought to New York. He became a hairstylist, and after gaining his freedom was the most sought after hairdresser among high society women. He could have become very wealthy, himself, but instead he supported the Church and the poor. He and his wife sheltered orphans, refugees, and others on the streets. During yellow fever epidemics, Toussaint would risk his life to help others by nursing the sick and praying with the dying. “I have never felt I am a slave to any man or woman but I am a servant of Almighty God who made us all. When one of his children is in need, I am glad to be His slave.”
In the Gospel story today, Simon, Andrew, James and John, after Jesus says, “Come follow me,” leave and follow Jesus – just like that. Last week, from John’s Gospel, we heard they were followers of John the Baptist, and then, after John said, “There is the Lamb of God,” they went to see who this person was.
Today, we celebrate the Magi – the Wise Men – who were alert to see the new star at its rising and follow it. They stopped whatever they were doing to follow this star, no matter where it led. They were awake to see the insecurity of Herod, and listened to their dreams and went home by a different way.