Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Lake Charles, Louisiana
February 21, 2016
Second Sunday of Lent
"This is my chosen Son, listen to him.” Luke 9:35
Sin is a deadly thing. It is a willful act that separates us from God. It says no to God. It says we do not need God. Sin says that we are sufficient to ourselves.
This dangerous sentiment St. Paul recognizes in the Philippians to whom he writes these words, “For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18). Sin for St. Paul makes a mockery of the cross of Christ. If by the cross Christ redeems us and mercy is extended to us, then to sin is to do more than ignore the cross. Sin laughs at the cross. Sin says to God that we do not need you. We do not care what You did, how much You suffered, or how much You love us. We just do not care.
This act of indifference, of laying aside moral conduct which is our response to God’s will, of thinking only of ourselves, of ignoring any consequence—this is what separates us from God. When we make our end destruction, our stomach a god, shame our glory, and busy ourselves only with earthly things (Philippians 3:19), this is not in keeping with the dignity to which we are called as sons and daughters of God.
God calls us to better things. “[O]ur citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). To that heavenly dignity the Transfiguration gives witness. All that accompanies the Transfiguration—the change of appearance, the dazzling white clothing, the mystical figures of Moses and Elijah, the descending cloud—all of these speak of something otherworldly that has a clear message for us in this world. “This is my chosen Son; listen to him” (Luke 9:35).
We cannot live without considering what the consequences of our actions will be. And when we stop to reflect on how sinful we are, then we turn to Christ and we listen to Him.
The story is told of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. One day while visiting one of her apostolates in which were involved many struggling sinners, a reporter asked her how she could reconcile herself by associating with such sinners. She turned and reminded the reporter that he was a sinner and that she was a sinner too. Enough said!
When we have been confronted by sinful behavior in someone else, no matter what it is, before we condemn we must look into ourselves and see where we need to reform our lives. What is it in us that keeps us from loving God? How do we make a mockery of the cross of Christ?
The dignity of the Christian is rooted in Christ. It is Christ whom we should imitate. In so doing, we lay aside the ways of the world and embrace the cross of Christ that leads to the Resurrection. In this way of self-denial we not only “listen to him” but also follow Him.
May God grant us grace to do precisely this—to turn away from sin and to follow the way of the cross, a lesson taught on that high mountain before Moses and Elijah to the astonishment of Peter, James and John when the Father revealed His “chosen son.” May we share in that glory as we share in their amazement.
Bishop Glen John Provost