13th March, 2022

person with lamp standing in the wilderness with nightsky

The 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year C

In today’s first reading, we have heard a well-known story of Abraham who, at some point in his life, received the following command from God: Look up to heaven and count the stars if you can. When I looked at this reading yesterday evening, I remembered my happy childhood and a little ‘Bible for children’ with colourful pictures that I had received from my parents when I was about five, that is, about 35 years ago. For many personal reasons it was the most wonderful and the most precious birthday gift I have ever received from anyone. I don’t think I could get anything better as a birthday gift, even for my fortieth birthday whenever it will be… Moreover, yesterday I remembered one particular picture from that little Bible showing Abraham standing in front of his tent pointing his finger at the stars as if he were actually trying to count them. As a little boy I was very inspired by this story and then many times I tried to do the same, although my parents always smiled when they saw my determination and my childish struggle with maths and astronomy.

But going back to Abraham, we can imagine how helpless he felt at that particular moment when he heard this unusual command from God. Look up to heaven and count the stars. I think he realized from the very beginning that the command he had received from God was very much beyond his human capacity. I have never studied astronomy but I am convinced that even nowadays it would be impossible to count all the stars, even if the weather is relatively good. Anyway, God immediately explained to Abraham what the purpose of this unusual request was. Such will be your descendants – He said. Probably each of us has experienced similar situations in our lives, when God entrusted us with tasks or missions that seemed difficult and even completely pointless to us. Perhaps – from our human point of view – they seemed like a crazy idea. At such moments and in such situations, it is always good to remember the second part of what God said to Abraham: If you can. Yes, He said to him: Count the stars in heaven, but only if you can. What does it mean? This means: try to do God’s will at every stage of your life, make at least a small effort to look up to heaven, without any conditions, without asking any additional questions. Prove to yourself and show others that you trust Him very much, and that you are ready and willing to do His will in every situation, even if it seems strange, impossible or crazy at times. If you only try and if you only show your willingness, you may be as surprised and as delighted as Abraham was, especially when he heard this wonderful promise about his descendants. Count the stars if you can. Such will be your descendants. Think for a moment, could Abraham have heard anything more wonderful?

What other message and inspiration can we find in today’s first reading, on which I wanted to focus our attention today? First of all, each of us, like Abraham, is invited to look up to heaven – or in other words – to keep our eyes constantly fixed on heaven. How is it possible and what does it mean in practice? It means realizing that the purpose of our life journey is much more than what we can experience with our senses, what we can buy, touch, eat, drink, measure or simply achieve here in this earthly life. It is something more than a comfortable life, money, an expensive car, house, or a luxury holiday in a dream place. Of course, all of this might be good, important and useful for us to some extent, but we need to remember that the ultimate destination of our live journey is heaven, which is something most wonderful and real at the same time.

And the second thing we are also called and invited to do is place our faith and trust in God. As we have heard: Abraham put his faith in the Lord, who counted this as making him justified. Perhaps, especially during the Lenten season, it is worth spending some time to reflect on our faith and trust in God. How strong are they? Maybe this holy time of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, meditating on the stations of the cross, gives us a wonderful opportunity to deepen our faith and put our trust in the Lord a bit more, as Abraham did. As we saw today, despite the fact that he was not able to count all the stars, God was not disappointed, on the contrary, He appreciated and rewarded his faith and made him justified.

May today’s Word of God and its profound and beautiful message, which is very simple and easy to understand, be a great inspiration for us during our spiritual journey through Lent and throughout our lives.

Fr Gregory