March 8, 2020 • Second Sunday in Lent
First Reading: Genesis 12:1–4a
Psalm: Psalm 33:4–5, 18–19, 20, 22 (22)
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Gospel Acclamation: Matthew 17:5
Gospel: Matthew 17:1–9
God plans to transfigure us like He transfigured His Son. A transfiguration is a radical transformation. He wants us to also shine like the sun and be His light in our dark world. That is the topic of the readings for the Second Sunday in Lent.
The first reading, from the Book of Genesis, is about God calling Abram forth to follow Him to a new land that He will show him. Verse 4a records that Abram went as the Lord directed him.
Through going as the Lord directed him, God then transfigured or transformed Abram from what he was in Haran, a childless man living among his family, to become one of the most influential people in the history of the world. Abram became Abraham, a man of God and a friend of God, who trusted Him so much that he was willing to offer the fulfillment of God’s promise of an heir, Isaac, back to Him in Genesis 22.
God promised to make him a great nation, to bless him, to make his name great in order to be a blessing to others, to treat others in the same way that they treat Abram and to make him a blessing to all the communities or nations of the earth. And Abraham did become a blessing to all nations through his descendent, Jesus Christ, and through his example of perseverance and faith as he went through many failures, trials and hardships.
It is important to note that, like Abram, our transfiguration is a lifelong process as we also answer God’s call and go as He directs us.
The Psalm reveals that it is God who protects, helps and delivers us on our transforming journey through life with Him. We can’t do it on our own. We are not worthy. We are dependent on His faithfulness, kindness and mercy. He is our hope.
Consequently, it is not surprising that the Apostle Paul exhorts us to bear our share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. Hardship is not optional. Indeed, it is usually hardship that God uses to transform us into trusting and obedient saints. Even Jesus was made perfect as our high priest through suffering (see Hebrews 2:10–18). How do we draw upon the strength that comes from God? We do it becoming familiar with His word and spending time in His presence through prayer, whether we feel His presence or not. He is there even when we do not see Him or feel Him.
The Apostle Paul reassures us that our salvation and the holy life to which we have been called have been planned for us by God since before time began, not because we earned them through our works, but by His grace, now made manifest through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is He who has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, which has been passed down to us, and which we proclaim by word and deed, by our transformation that God is working in us.
From the shining cloud, the Father’s voice is heard: This is my beloved Son, hear him. We are to listen to Jesus and do what He says, so that we, too, may be transformed into His likeness and see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
Charles Wesley, in his hymn, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, writes, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity!” That is what happened on the Mount of the Transfiguration in our Gospel reading. Peter, James and John saw Jesus in His heavenly glory. They also saw the Communion of the Saints in operation with the appearance of Moses and Elijah, who then conversed with Jesus. And they heard God’s own testimony and exhortation concerning Jesus as His Son, which made them fall prostrate in fear and worship.
And we are becoming like Him as we follow Him.
I will close with a quote from C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. ( http://bit.ly/330M7rx )
Are we on the way of transformation in Christ? Are we helping all we meet to choose and continue in that way?