WHOM SHALL I FEAR? – Second Sunday in Lent, Year C

March 13, 2022

Revised Common Lectionary
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17 – 4:1
Luke 9:28-36 or Luke 13:31-35


Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Psalm 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14
Philippians 3:(17-19) 20 – 4:1
Luke 9:28b-36

As I struggle to pray the text of today’s psalm, I find myself getting stuck when I come across these words: “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident” (Ps 27:3). Even as I write this, Russian troops are moving deeper into Ukraine, people are dying, and tens of thousands have been displaced. This is but the most recent instance of violence and warfare causing fear, disruption, and death in various parts of the world.

When conflicts erupt in the world or when terrible things happen to us or those close to us, we are left wondering: Why, O God? How long will evil prevail? Are you even listening? Can we trust God’s promise to bring about an order of peace and justice? Can we believe that our efforts to feed the hungry, oppose injustice and racism, or foster reconciliation will make any difference? Can we seriously trust that we should not fear?

At times like these, we might feel a bit like Abram in today’s reading from Genesis. We have questions. It was all well and good for God to counsel Abram, “Do not be afraid,” but he was an old man with no heir. He wanted to know: “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless?” (Gen 15:2) God reassured him that he would not only have an heir but that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky.

In response to his question, Abram received neither blueprint nor timetable, yet we are told that “he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness” (15:6). He risked putting his faith in God, believing that God would fulfill the promise.

On this Second Sunday of Lent, even as we come together with heavy hearts and with difficult questions on our minds, we are once again called to trust in God’s faithful love. But here’s the rub: We’re being invited to trust God in the way that Jesus did—by embracing the cross as the way to life.

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear Jesus speak of the suffering and death that he will experience in Jerusalem. As he completes his Galilean ministry, Luke tells us that “he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51). Jerusalem, the city that killed the prophets, is the place where he will suffer, die, and rise.

We are invited during Lent to make this journey with him through a world beset by injustice, pain, and conflict—to continue making a difference in a spirit of trust. As Jesus spoke of his own Passover and set his face to Jerusalem, so too are we called to face the cross and embrace it as the only path to glory. As we journey, we make our own the song of the psalmist: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Ps 27:13-14)

A Hymn for Today: “The Lord Is My Light”

Very little is known about African American composer Lillian Bouknight, except that she was a worship leader in the Pentecostal Holiness movement. She set her paraphrase of Psalm 27 to a strong musical setting that powerfully expresses the confidence of the community that sings, “Whom shall I fear?” Listen here.

The Lord is my light and my salvation,
the Lord is my light and my salvation,
the Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear? Refrain

Whom shall I fear, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
whom shall I fear?

In the time of trouble, he shall hide me;
in the time of trouble, he shall hide me;
in the time of trouble, he shall hide me;
whom shall I fear? Refrain

Wait on the Lord and be of good courage,
oh, wait on the Lord and be of good courage,
wait on the Lord and be of good courage;
he shall strengthen thy heart. Refrain

Text: Lillian Bouknight (d. 1990), © 1981, Peermusic III, Ltd. and Savgos Music, Inc.; admin. Hal Leonard Corporation. Used by permission under OneLicense #A-729857
Music: Lillian Bouknight, arr. Paul Gainer

Image Credit: Snowstorm of Stars; Astronomer-photographers: S. Djorgovski (Caltech) and F. Ferraro (University of Bologna)

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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