February 25, 2018 Second Sunday of Lent Deacon Steve Whiteman


Second Sunday of LentReading 1 GN 22:1-2, 9A, 10-13, 15-18

Responsorial Psalm PS 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19

  1. (116:9)I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

Reading 2  ROM 8:31B-34

Verse Before The Gospel  CF. MT 17:5

From the shining cloud the Father's voice is heard:
This is my beloved Son, listen to him.

Gospel MK 9:2-10

24/25 February 2018                                                       dealing with doubt

I want to tell you about my friend from work named Daniel. Daniel is a talented engineer with a strong Christian faith. He started climbing mountains when he was a teenager and at 17, set a goal to climb Mt. Everest. He was very driven and disciplined as a young adult. After 10 years of training, intense physical exercise and technical climbing at high altitudes he was ready to make his first Everest expedition.

As it turned out, Daniel was staying at the base camp on Mt. Everest in 2014 during the avalanche. The avalanche that killed 12 people at a higher elevation happened just a few hours before Daniel was planning to make his final ascent to the peak. The mountain was declared unsafe and everyone was sent home. After Daniel spent years of training and most of his savings in his attempt to climb Mt. Everest, he was denied the chance to achieve his goal.

After returning to Dubuque, I know Daniel had doubts about his chance of reaching the top of Mt. Everest but he kept the right perspective. He said he learned that failures are inevitable in life but what is more important is how you perceive them. His failure to reach the top of Mt. Everest on his first attempt was actually a success in some respects because got as far as he did and made it back alive.

Daniel struggled with doubt over the next few months but focused on the original goal and decided to try again. After 2 more years of training and saving money, he went back to Nepal and in 2016 successfully climbed the world’s tallest mountain.

I was reminded of Daniel’s inspiring story when I saw the Gospel for this weekend. The Transfiguration must have been an incredible mountain top experience for Peter, James and John. They saw Jesus in His divine glory when He was transfigured and heard God’s own voice from the cloud: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.

This amazing experience must have eliminated any doubts they were having about Jesus’ mission and strengthened their faith for the difficult times ahead.  

So this season of Lent may be the perfect time to reflect on the Gospel story and ask ourselves:

·        What kind of doubts are we dealing with in our faith life?

·        What can we do to resolve these doubts and strengthen our faith?

Having doubts about our faith is a normal human reaction. How we respond to these doubts will make all the difference. Consider spending a few minutes each day during Lent reflecting on these doubts and their origin.

Sometimes the origin of these doubts comes from a dark place. The devil is a master at sowing the seeds of doubt in our lives but he won’t be successful if we fight back. These seeds of doubt won’t grow if we don’t feed and water them. If we focus on living a Christian life each day, instead of doubts about the past or future we can stay on the right track.

Sometimes doubts about our faith life are brought on by unresolved issues in the past. If we keep them buried inside ourselves, they may continue to fester, like an untreated wound. This season of Lent may be the perfect time to heal that wound by going to Reconciliation.

Doubts about our faith life may also be resolved by looking for our own “mountain top experience”. Consider one of these faith building activities offered during Lent this year:

·        Fr. Jim is sponsoring a video series on Discipleship the next 4 Sunday’s at 1:30 pm. The video is also shown on Wednesday mornings at 9:30. Details are in the bulletin.

·        We have Stations of the Cross again on Tuesday nights during Lent at 5:30pm and a free soup supper afterwards.

·        If we need a short term escape from our busy lives, consider one of the weekend retreats coming up like CEW or Emmaus. I know these retreats have a lot to offer and sometimes the mountain top experience finds you when you least expect it.

Like Daniel’s experience with Mt. Everest, living our Catholic faith is a long term goal that takes planning and preparation. There may be short term failures, but if we view them with the right perspective, we can avoid doubts about our faith and stay on the right path.

As we continue on our Lenten journey, let us pray that God will help us overcome our doubts, strengthen our faith and stay focused on the goal of spending eternity with Him on the mountain top.