Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE TAKE UP OUR CROSSES TO FOLLOW JESUS TO HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION
- Genesis 12:1-4;
- Psalm 32:4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
- 2 Timothy 1:8-10
- Matthew 17:1-9
Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent; Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism!
Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for their baptism and when we who are baptized prepare to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Lent is therefore a time for repentance. Lent is therefore a time when we take up our crosses to follow Jesus to his death and resurrection!
The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord! His face shone like the sun and his clothes were as white as light! But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that God the Father spoke from the bright cloud saying:
“This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him”. (Mt 17:5; SM)
That is, Jesus is the Son of God. He is loved by God his Father. He is also the Suffering Servant of God (“he enjoys my favor”; Is 42:1). Listen to him, especially when he tells you about his death and resurrection and your dying and rising with him to a new life! (CSB)
The gospel ends with Jesus telling the disciples not to tell anyone about the transfiguration until he has risen from the dead. The transfiguration is not the resurrection. The transfiguration is only a foreshadower, a foretaste and a prefigurement of the resurrection. The transfiguration is only a glimpse of the resurrection to strengthen the faith of the disciples to prepare them for the death and resurrection of Jesus and their own death and resurrection with Jesus!
That is why in all the three gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) the transfiguration is found immediately after Jesus’ first prediction of his passion, death and resurrection; and his instructions to the disciples to take up their crosses to follow him to his death and resurrection! (Mt 16:21-25)
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. In the first reading God calls Abraham to leave his country, his family and his father’s house in order to go to a land that God will show him; and God will bless him and through him God will bless all the nations of the world!
Abraham was to cut off all earthly ties and go to an unknown land! It was Abraham’s first act of faith! (NJB) Because of Abraham’s faith, God will bless him and through him God will bless all the nations of the world!
Abraham here prefigures Jesus Christ! Because of the faith of Jesus Christ in God his Father, God the Father raised him from the dead and through him God the Father will raise all dead sinners to life!
The responsorial psalm is a hymn of hope in God and in his love! Thus we responded three times:
“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32:22; SM)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us about “God’s creative word”. (vv. 4-5; NJBC) The second stanza tells us that “God alone is savior”. (vv. 18-19; NJBC) In the third stanza “the community of faith expresses its hope in God’s steadfast love”. (vv. 20 & 22; HCSB) Thus we read in the third stanza:
“Our soul is waiting for the Lord. The Lord is our help and our shield. May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32:20 & 22; SM)
The second reading tells us to bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, that is, to suffer for the sake of living and preaching the Good News! (Lefrois; CSB) The Good News is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners! Thus we read in the second reading:
“With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News. …. He abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.” (2 Tm 1:8a. 10b; SM)
In this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, not as a punishment for our sins, but to help us to repent, to help us take up our crosses to follow Jesus to his death and resurrection, so that we will live the new life of Easter! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.