Lent 2nd Sunday – CRISIS: BOON OR BANE
Lent 2nd Sunday
Gen. 15: 5-12, 17-18, 21b Phil. 3: 17-4: 1 Lk. 9: 28b-36
CRISIS: BOON OR BANE
Properly approached, moments of crisis can become moments of opportunity.
Moments of Crisis:
All of us do have our moments of self-doubt, anxiety, restlessness about our life, our future etc.. At times, these moments of anxiety and restlessness are very acute and severe, and that is called crisis. Abraham had this gnawing disquiet in his life. It was about his progeny, and consequently about his future. We see him addressing God, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless?”
Jesus too had his moments of anxiety and unrest. When we look at the synoptic gospels, we understand that Jesus’ first part of ministry was focusing on miracles, healings, preaching etc. It looks as if Jesus believed that by these miracles, healings and preaching, he could help people find their fullness of life. However as months passed by, he might have questioned himself whether he was right in his approach. He wanted to check it with his disciples. That is why he asked them, “What am in the perception of people? (‘Who do people say that I am?). From their answers, Jesus realized that no one perceived him as the one who can offer them fullness of life. (A Saviour/Messiah is the one who offers fullness of life – Jn. 10:10)
Neither the disciple had the right understanding of Jesus. Peter’s answer “The Messiah of God” reveals his expectation rather than his experience. That is, he confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, not because he experienced Jesus so, but because he wished Jesus to be the (political) Messiah so that he and his companions could have a better future. It was because of this reason, Jesus said that his answer was more a revelation than his experience. “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven” (Mt. 16: 17).
Through Crisis to Clarity:
This bit of self-examination seems to have helped Jesus to realize that his method of healing, performing miracles are not right strategies to help people experience fullness of life. He might have understood that the more he fulfilled the needs of people, the more people would approach him for the fulfilment of their needs. And the needs of human beings are like bottomless pit. It is very difficult to find a person who would say that all his needs have been fulfilled.
Jesus understood the need to change his strategy. It was from this moment onwards, he began to speak about suffering. It was the choice of this strategy that was further confirmed in the experience of transfiguration. We see that, in transfiguration, both Moses and Elijah appeared and Luke says that they discussed about Jesus’ suffering and death in Jerusalem.
The event of transfiguration is a central, crucial event in the life of Jesus. It was the event which put him in a different mode of ministry. It was after this event, Jesus, besides reducing the number of miracles, began to speak much about suffering, detachment, renunciation as methods of achieving fullness of life. Jesus’ deliberate move towards suffering clearly informs us that it is by embracing suffering, one can harvest fullness of life. Though it looks to be paradoxical to our logical mind, it is the way the nature works.
If it was the event of transfiguration that gave Jesus clarity of mind and of purpose, for Abraham it was the event of covenant God made with him, that gave him confidence in the promises of God.
Crisis or Opportunity?
All of us do have our moments of anxiety, disquiet, uneasiness and restlessness, in other words moments of crises. A proper approach is necessary to deal with them. When we have a proper approach towards crisis, it becomes an opportunity to elevate our life to a higher level. A proper approach to crisis will help us to understand how imperfect and unwholesome our human plans are and help us to realize the need to be open to God and create space for Him in our lives. That is what Abraham did. That is what Jesus did. During the moments of crises, they allowed God to work through their problems. Such an act of surrender to God and of being open to God helped them to elevate their lives to a higher level. Besides, God also made use of them as channels to offer fullness of life to others. The word Islam is coined by two Arabic words Salaam and Slm. Salaam means peace, and Slm means ‘submitting your will to the will of the Creator.’ It simply tells us that real peace is possible only by submitting ourselves to the will of God.
An improper approach towards crisis, on the other hand, instead of solving it, would further aggravate it. Improper approach basically consists in trying to deal with our crisis by materialism. That is, many believe that by increasing their material comfort, the crisis will disappear. Their mindset is ‘the more we have, the less is our problem.’ St. Paul, in the second reading, says that it can’t be the right approach. While the roots of many of our crises are deeply psychological and spiritual, many firmly, but wrongly, think that they suffer because of lack of money, position, power etc.. They are not able to perceive anything that is beyond material. It is about these sorts of people, he says, “Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.”