(Second Sunday of Lent: Genesis 12:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9)
The imperative form of a verb is used for commands. It occurs in all of today’s readings. It also marks the beginning and end of the message of La Salette.
Imperatives usually are nothing more than commands, one person telling another what to do or what not to do. Sometimes, however, they highlight the importance or the urgency of what is commanded.
God had a plan for Abram. It was urgent that Abram leave everything behind and follow that plan, not knowing where it would lead.
St. Paul reminds Timothy of the importance of bearing hardships for the Gospel. Suffering, an evil in itself, finds value when borne for the cause of Christ.
The Transfiguration of Jesus sets the stage for the command from heaven: “Listen to him.” What could be more dramatic, more urgent? And what could be more important, after such an experience, than the comforting command, “Don’t be afraid”?
The first imperatives of the Beautiful Lady, “Come closer, children, don’t be afraid,” are followed immediately by the words, “I am here to tell you great news.” And the final command to “Make it known” is given in two slightly different forms.
A La Salette Missionary from Angola once explained that, in his culture, the normal course for sending a message would be to have the messenger come to your house and sit down with you for a chat and a cup of tea. Then you would communicate the message and the messenger would go off. But if the message is especially urgent, you would meet the messenger at the door and communicate the message at once. Thus, the fact that the Blessed Virgin remained standing and launched immediately into her message is yet another sign of the importance and urgency of what she had come to tell her people.
Lent has a character of urgency about it that distinguishes it from all other liturgical times. It begins with the command to “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you will return,” or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
Well? What are you waiting for?