Second Sunday of Lent
1) Gn 15:5-12, 17-18
Psalm 27:1, 7-9, 13-14
2) Phil 3:17-4:1
Gospel: Lk 9:28b-36
At the gym where I go, workouts vary. Some days the workout is an AMRAP. That stands for As Many Rounds As Possible. It consists of several movements — maybe pushups, dead lifts, ring dips, and double unders — with a time limit. You cycle through the movements as many times as you can until the clock runs out.
As I read it, today’s psalm (Psalm 27) feels like an AMRAP. There are several movements, and the psalmist seems to be cycling through them.
The psalmist’s first movement is declaration. “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” he exults. “Whom should I fear?”
He moves on to the next station. “Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call; have pity on me, and answer me.” This is a cry for help. He’s trying to get God’s attention.
Then he prays, “Hide not your face from me; do not in anger repel your servant. You are my helper: cast me not off.” What shall we call this movement? Telling God he’s not paying attention? The psalmist seems to be feeling some anxiety.
“I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living.” The psalmist has gone back to the first station, letting the world know that God is his helper. After the last station, this movement now seems like a countermovement. “Of course God isn’t hiding his face,” the psalmist is telling himself. “I just need to wait for him.”
In another verse not prayed in today’s liturgy, the psalmist renews his appeal to God: “Lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes.” He’s back at the struggling-with-anxiety station.
It’s easy to picture the psalmist returning to the beginning of his prayer every time he gets to the end and moving from station to station again. He isn’t timing his workout, so it’s not an AMRAP. It’s an AMRAN: As Many Rounds As Needed.
In today’s first reading, God makes a promise and Abraham accepts it. He “put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.” But faith isn’t a one-time achievement. As the psalmist shows us, we keep cycling through the movements of trust and anxiety — until our clock runs out. Then the workout ends. We are with God. And we rest.
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.