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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Obedience to God’s will releases His overabundant blessings

‘Because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.’

The transfiguration of Jesus is a vivid description of a future life of glory if we do the will of the Father. We would do well in spending quiet time simply contemplating Jesus, transfigured in glory. He is the obedient one. That's our future, our calling and the fruit of doing the Father's will. We will have an eternity of contemplating God in His glory.

Look at the readings for the second Sunday of Lent. In the first reading, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, his only hope of descendants. For Abraham, obedience is everything. To obey God is to enter into God. To enter into God is to fulfill our deepest yearning for happiness.

Abraham doesn't hesitate, even though Isaac is his only hope to fulfill the promise that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham isn't attached to a specific way of fulfilling this promise. Abraham's role is obedience so that God's plan can be released.

When Abraham gave God permission to take Isaac as a holocaust, God reveals to Abraham the fruit of obedience. "I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son."

Obedience to God's will always releases God's overabundant blessings to mankind. Take a look at the cross. Christ's obedience to the Father released God's overwhelming mercy and goodness to man. Once the obedience of Jesus to the Father is expressed, it's up to man to accept this mercy and goodness by imitating Christ's obedience.

The Transfiguration demonstrates clearly what happens when Christ enters fully into the Father's will through obedience. The glory of the Father released in Jesus is so bright that it shines through His humanity and through His clothing. The Father's approval bursts forth in His loving voice: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him."

In a sense, God promises to all followers of Christ that they, too, will be transfigured by the Father when they surrender their lives in obedience. Once Peter asked Jesus, "What will there be for us?" Jesus replied, "Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life" (Matthew 20:29).

This all sounds good — and it is — but often we find it difficult to embrace Christ's teachings. When we fail in our attempts at obedience, we turn against ourselves in discouragement. We forget the Father's mercy.

We become discouraged because our ego is hurt. We have failed to live up to our own expectations, and we hold ourselves responsible for not having the goodness to stay close to God. In other words, we make the mistake of unconsciously becoming our own savior.

When we make this mistake, we need to put our God back into perspective. God has far more mercy than we have sins. Jesus didn't spend His lifetime on earth with just the saints. He sought out sinners because He wanted an outlet for His mercy. After all, if He is our savior, then He wants to be busy saving people. "I did not come to call the just, but sinners."

Once a Protestant pastor put a big banner outside his church proclaiming "For Sinners Only." Half the people did not show up, so he took the sign down so people would come back.

This is the message Paul gives us in the second reading: "If God is for us, who can be against us. He who did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all, how will He not also give us everything else along with Him?"

He continues: "Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn?"

Heaven was designed for sinners who have experienced the explosive joy of obedience through repentance.

The more we contemplate and magnify the glory which God has in store for those who sincerely seek to follow Him, the more we will rejoice in those humiliations which, when embraced, bring us closer to the suffering Christ.

God is the God of abundance. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Only repentant sinners qualify for the glory of heaven. The sufferings of repeated humiliations qualify us for that glory. It's not what we do for God that makes us holy, but what we allow God to do in us and through us. God wants His mercy to shine through us. He wants us to be His billboards as joyous, repentant sinners.

Remember the leper who said, "Lord, if you want, you can make me clean." This leper became a living billboard to everyone around him that Jesus was alive and well in our midst.

Would that our faces would become that radiant with joy because of what Jesus is doing within us! We don't go around telling people how good we are. We go around telling others how good Jesus is to us in his merciful acceptance of us. In today's world, hope sells well because there is so little of it. Therefore, any little hope you can give others by telling them how Jesus has been so good to you will light fires of expectancy in their hearts. 

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