Second Sunday in Lent • March 17, 2019
First Reading: Genesis 15:5–12, 17–18
Psalm: Psalm 27:1, 7–8, 8–9, 13–14 (1a)
Second Reading: Philippians 3:17–4:1
Gospel Acclamation: cf. Matthew 17:5
Gospel: Luke 9:28b–36
It can be challenging to wait on God to fulfill His promises. God’s sense of timing and ours are different. Abram (who will eventually be renamed Abraham in the future) has travelled from Haran to Canaan based on God’s call and promises for descendants and the land of Canaan. A number of years have passed during which Abram had to relocate to Egypt temporarily to wait out a famine in the land of Canaan and then he had to fight a battle with some neighboring kings in order to rescue his nephew, Lot, whom they had taken captive.
At the beginning of Chapter 15, Abram is lamenting his lack of an offspring to be his heir to God, surmising that he will have to make one of his servants his heir. Clearly he is doubting whether God is going to came through on His promises to him. But Abram is taking his doubts to God basically in prayer which is a good thing to do. He is maintaining his relationship with God in the midst of his doubts and fears.
So God reiterates his promise of an offspring and has him look at the stars and says that his descendants will be beyond counting like the stars. Abram really believes God this time and God credits it to him as righteousness.
Then Abram expresses his doubt as to whether God is really going to give him the land. So God makes a formal covenant with Abram according to the cultural customs of the time. Animals are killed and split in two with halves on each side of a pathway between them. Then both parties are to walk through them basically saying may the fate of these animals be mine if I don’t fulfill my side of the covenant. But God makes a covenant to fulfill both His and Abram’s side of the covenant because God knows that Abram’s growing faith is weak and he is not capable of doing his part alone. And this Abrahamic covenant becomes a type of the New Covenant with us established by Jesus through His death on the cross.
Psalm 27 is of a psalm of David where he is expressing his trust in God alongside with his fear that he will blow it and be rejected by God. We know how weak we are even when we really do trust God and He really is our hearts’ desire. Again, like Abram, David is taking his anxiety and doubt to God Himself in prayer. That is the right thing to do. David is maintaining his relationship with God. And by the end of the reading David is reassured of God’s favor and blessing.
The Apostle Paul introduces another channel of God’s grace, the communion of the Saints, which will help us learn to patiently wait for Jesus to take us home to the Father’s house. There are among us and around us Saints we can imitate and model our lives after. Some are saints in the making, living in this world at the same time we are. Others have finished their race and kept the faith and are in heaven waiting for us to join them. Both kinds of saints can assist us by their examples, teaching and intercessions.
Paul warns us that we need help, we can’t do it alone. The pull of the world and our appetites will be too strong.
The Gospel for today, which is about the Transfiguration of Jesus, continues this theme of standing firm in our faith through prayer and the help of others. Here we see Jesus, the God who became a man at prayer, talking to His Father, maintaining His relationship. And as He does so, the glory of God and who He really is begins to shine through. And then God sends Moses and Elijah to talk with Him about what He will be facing. The light and conversation awakens Peter, James and John who had fallen asleep while Jesus was praying. Peter wanted to prolong the Transfiguration and the fellowship with Moses and Elijah into an extended spiritual retreat. But it was time to be about the Father’s business in the world again.
Today’s readings provide two ways to stand firm in the Faith in the midst of this world that seeks to divert us. We need to open ourselves to God in prayer, confessing our fears and doubts to Him. And we need to look around and identify saints who fit the pattern that we can imitate and from whom we can receive their assistance. And as we does the glory of God will shine through us awakening the slumbering around us. We cannot stand alone.
Many God draw you ever closer to His heart of love, mercy and grace.
Thank you for sharing your reflection.
“We need to open ourselves to God in prayer, confessing our fears and doubts to Him”
I agree with you! We must open our hearts to God and let Him know our fears and doubts, because He listens to us with compassion and can do something about it.
In this sense, the Gospel shows us how He reacts. When He told His disciples He was going to be rejected and killed, they were devastated. How could it be that their Messiah, whom they had seen quieting storms, curing incurable people and raising the death, could suffer rejection and die? They could not bear to believe that!
Jesus knew what was going on in their hearts, and that is why He took His three closest disciples and transfigured before them. To cast away their doubts, their fears, to give them the consoling certainty that He was who they thought He was.
It blows my mind to see what a tender, loving Lord we have! He cares about us, knows how we feel and does whatever is necessary to help us.
Thanks for your insights, Alma!
Thank you Howard. I love that you drew out the theme of taking your doubts and concerns to God. To acknowledge fears and tell them to God instead of hiding away in shame or uncertainty. It is a good reminder that there is absolutely nothing we can’t take to God, and absolutely nothing that He doesn’t care about.
I am glad you found my reflection helpful. What you say about God caring about everything in our lives is absolutely true. He wants us to bring everything to Him.