When I was a kid, around the age of 12, I had convinced myself that it was time to begin my journey towards financial freedom and I decided to get a paper route. I made a phone call, spoke with the people in charge, and agreed to begin the route the following week. It was only after all that when I decided to fill my parents in regarding my plans for financial success. At first, they were suspicious and reluctant, but they eventually agreed to let me take my first steps toward financial freedom and start my first official job.
In all fairness their suspicion and reluctance were not misplaced. They had good reason to question my commitment and my motivation. This job would require me to get up every morning at 5am, roll somewhere just north of 100 newspapers, and then ride my bicycle throughout the streets of our town delivering papers. A job, by the way, that needed to be completed by 630am every morning, every day, no matter the weather or circumstance.
In spite of their better judgement, they agreed, and I became an official paperboy for the Billings Gazette delivering papers every morning 7 days a week.
In order to learn how to do the job properly I was to spend my first week as a “ride along”– sort of a newspaper boy apprentice. The current paperboy, from whom I would be learning, would teach me the route and the art of rolling and throwing newspapers. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember that he was a senior in high school and he drove a 72 Chevy pickup truck that had a bumper sticker on the inside of the cab above the glove box, that read, “You can’t fly with eagles, if you run with turkeys!”
As I was preparing for this week’s homily, I found myself asking why the Holy Mother Church, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, has placed the Gospel account of the Transfiguration on the 2nd Sunday of Lent.
The Lenten season is about penitence, sacrifice, and self-denial. All of which are themes contradictory to the experience of the Apostles who witnessed the Transfiguration. Peter himself, in his exuberance and desire to prolong the mountain top experience, asked to build shelters for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. Compare that desire to extend time with your own Lenten experiences. I am pretty sure I can’t be the only person here who has already thought to themselves, “Man, is Lent almost over yet?”
Today being the 2nd Sunday of Lent it is quite possible that you may have already stumbled in your commitments. The caffeine headaches were too distracting, the diet restrictions too strict, and the earlier hour intended to be dedicated for prayer was just too early. Or, some of you may have simply forgot that it was Friday, and proceed to make your favorite ham & salami sandwich only too have one of your children turn to you, and exclaim, “Dad, what are you doing? It’s Friday! You’re a Deacon for crying out loud!”
Remember that this Lenten Season is not an opportunity for us to prove our righteousness. Rather, Lent is an opportunity for us to grow in righteousness. Our self-sacrifice and our service are not badges of honor to be put on display for our friends and family. We didn’t commit to prayer, fasting, and charitable works in an attempt to prove our worthiness. Instead, our prayer, fasting, and charitable works are the methods by which we move to a deeper, richer, and fuller relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Lent is a season of movement, not stagnation.
Today, the Church is reminding us that our commitments are not without purpose. The Apostle Paul reminds us of that in today’s 2nd reading and calls us to join him on that journey. The journey to be imitators of Christ. To leave behind and let go of our worldly ways and attachments and recognize that our citizenship is in heaven and not of this world.
In case you were wondering, I was not a very good paperboy. It did not take long before the realities of getting up every morning at 5am, regardless of the weather or circumstance, began to diminish the reward of the paycheck I received every 2 weeks. I soon discovered that the path to financial freedom was not as simple or as easy as I had believed. However, I have never forgotten the bumper sticker.
During this Lenten season you will encounter turkeys. People, circumstances, temptations, and events that will discourage you, dissuade you, and dishearten you from your commitments. God is calling you. He is asking you to let go of those things which bind you and hold you back. This day, this 2nd Sunday of Lent, I too remind you that you cannot “Fly with eagles, when you are running with turkeys.”
Come to this altar today and ask God to forgive your failings and to strengthen your resolve and to receive the mercy and power that he so abundantly gives to those who follow him.