Once there was a bird who loved to fly. But one day, while she was high up in the air, it began to rain, and her feathers became so heavy that when she tried to land, she crashed and broke her wing. Eventually, she healed, but there was a problem. Every time she wanted to fly, something inside stopped her from leaving the ground. Day after day, her fear and anxiety held her down. She forgot who she was.
But one day, a strong wind came, caught her, and lifted her high into the sky. Terrified, the bird had no other choice but to open her wings.
And that’s when she remembered how to fly.
We all have moments like this in our lives. When we are frozen. When we forget who we are. Like when a bill arrives and you have no idea how you are going to pay for it. Or, when someone at home has an addiction. Or we have to deal with controlling boss. Or when we forget to complete a school project. Or a medical situation just drops into our lives, one that we never would have imaged we’d have to deal with. What are we supposed to do? We forget how to be happy. We’re overwhelmed. We have no idea what it means to ‘go in peace’.
But God remembers. And God gets to work.
Not by taking away our problems, our fears and anxieties. But by reminding us of who we really are. By being that strong wind that will life us up… just like that little bird.
That’s exactly what happened to Abraham in our first reading from Genesis. We know the theological meaning here – a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus; a testimony to Abraham’s faith – but let’s be real: what was dinner like that night at Abraham’s home? Imagine his stress, his anxiety, his confusion when he looked into the eyes of his son. He must have questioned why that whole episode had to happen in the first place.
We’ve all been there. Struggling with God’s plans. Maybe it’s your Lenten journey this year. The prayer, the fasting, the almsgiving. We might think: “Ugh. Here I am trying to make through today, and I’m also supposed to not eat meat, to be diligent in prayers, to give my money away to a charity.” Like that little bird, we’re frozen. We know what we’re supposed to do, but we just can’t.
Abraham reminds us that God always has our best interests in mind. We need to remember and trust God through not only the blessing of what we can do, but maybe even more so in our greatest losses, our greatest disappointments, our broken dreams.
You can’t help but hope that the student marches in Parkland to protest gun violence are going to make a difference. That out of a horrible event, our nation will be changed for the better. The same with the Dreamers, as our Cardinal Cupich has spoken about quite a bit this week. Both reminders that God provides us the gift of hope in the moments of our greatest despair.
Maybe that’s why we read the Transfiguration in today’s Gospel. Our destiny, our “destination” – a peek into heaven. For just a brief moment, God’s provides a strong wind to get us in the air again. We see the promise of our own resurrection, our life in the presence of Jesus the Lord. He flew first, through death into new life. He showed us the way.
The sacrifice of Isaac happens at the beginning of Abraham’s life. Yet he is promised so much for doing what God asks him to do. Through his effort, the nation of Israel begins.
Imagine all the wonderful things God has in store for your life after you – like Abraham — face your difficult moments. To know that your problem is not the end of the story.
That’s’ the promise of Easter. That’s the reminder of Lent.
The great Billy Graham, who passed away this week, once said, “I’ve read the last page of the bible. It’s all going to turn out alright.”
May that be the wind beneath our wings this morning.