The LORD said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”
I will never forget June 27, 1999. That’s the day I boarded the airplane at Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome, Italy and started my final return journey to the United States as a recently-ordained priest. With academic degrees in hand, I was still without a clue as to where I was really going. Sure, I knew my assignment, but the only thing I really possessed was the inner conviction that God wanted me to be a darn good priest, formed to enthusiastically and authentically proclaim the Gospel and His Kingdom. Other than that, I had no idea what lay ahead…and I still don’t, for that matter!
Providentially, the very reading we will hear this Second Sunday of Lent, reminds me of the deep need we all have: we need to trust the Lord’s continual goodness. Abraham had it all: “… very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.” He was quite cozy in the town of Ur and was actually ready for retirement by our standards. Then it got a little foggy for Abe… “Go forth… to a land that I will show you.” Wow, the power of those words. Talk about a Lenten journey! I certainly didn’t have the vaguest idea what lay ahead of me back then. All I knew was that there was an invitation to go, to leap, to trust again completely. I was scared, clueless. But looking back, what a ride! What lessons I learned, and continue to learn as the Father continues to form me.
My spiritual father asked me to listen to my life, to listen for my heart’s deepest desire, to put out into the deep, to trust as Abraham did. I did my best to “be attentive to the voice of Grace.” I struggled much, but through it all God was working His plans out for my heart. As a priest for 13+ years, I have discovered how to walk this road just as Abraham did; in faith and trust and with wild abandon (though still sometimes stumbling!). In the words of Peter Kreeft: “There is one and only one possible road to joy: selfless love.” That road dawns again for us each Lent, and that selfless love is the center line for all of us. By listening to the Love Who resides in our bodies, the Word of God in our hearts and minds, purified and harmonized with His Will, we will find our Promised Land just as Abraham did. A vocation of self-gift, flowing with milk and honey for the world!
God love you, and those you love!