2nd Sunday of Lent
Reading I Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Psalm 27:1, 7-9, 13-14
Reading II Philippians 3:20, 4:1
Gospel Luke 9:28-36
This morning we hear several things in the Gospel. We learn how Jesus took Peter, John and James up to the mountain and how he was transfigured, how his clothes were changed into dazzling white and how Moses and Elijah appeared and were speaking to him about the exodus he was going to make in Jerusalem. Now one of the things that can be missed in this story is the action the apostles were not taking. If we flash forward to the crucifixion and the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus is praying with his Father, what do we find Peter, James and John doing? We find them sleeping — just as they were sleeping as the transfiguration happened.
At both times they were asleep as the action was taking place, actually as the good parts were happening. And then we also hear how Moses and Elijah were speaking to Jesus about the Exodus. Moses connecting with the Exodus, that’s pretty simple, but we also realize that the exodus he is conversing about is his passion and death. He is going to be making a journey, a pilgrimage, to offer a sacrifice to God the Father and we learn that it is going to be successful. It is not going to be easy but even after the apostles wake up and see his glorified body, they see in that and hear in that the promise of the resurrection and the promise that after we die, God willing, and make it to heaven our bodies will be raised and our souls and bodies will be reunited. And, they will look different.
We hear the promise of the resurrection even as early as the transfiguration. One of the things that Paul says in the Second Reading — he urges the Philippians to live what they have been taught — to live with Paul as a model just as Paul is living in conformity with Christ. Paul has told them in the past and even now tells them in tears that there are those who have heard the Gospel who are living as the enemies of the Cross of Christ who are thinking only of themselves and who are thinking only of the material needs that they have. He uses the example of those who are obedient only to their stomachs, those who are worried only about the nourishment that comes from earthly food instead of looking for the nourishment that satisfies our spirits and souls. Paul urges people to live in accord with the example that Christ gave us.
We hear in the First Reading about Abram, before his name was changed to Abraham, and how he went forth to give a sacrifice to God. He took the birds, cut them in half and offered a small firepot as well, and how birds of prey swooped in and harassed him and yet how he stayed faithful even in that one small example, and how God credited to Abram his faith. We have to realize something here. Abram’s faith was not just spoken. It wasn’t just, “Yes, God, I will offer a sacrifice to you when it is convenient. Yes, I’ll praise you God with my lips but not have my life changed.” Abram could have fled and abandoned the sacrifice but he chose to stay. His faith in God encouraged him to go forward and we hear how God showed Abram all the stars of the sky that he could see and said that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky.
We can draw this back to ourselves if we acknowledge that Abram’s faith is what saved him, that Abram’s faith is what compelled him on to union with God. We ourselves as Christians — we live by our faith. It is not an empty faith saying just nice things and living our lives however we want to, or doing whatever society tells us to do. If we are in relationship with Christ and in relationship with the Holy Trinity — our lives will be changed and we will live by our faith. If we have just encountered Christ and think, “It’s a nice feeling and I will go along with it as long as it lasts, and then do nothing about it, we are living as enemies of the cross of Christ.
We know that life isn’t easy and I am certainly not one to say, “Oh, life is easy. It is star-shine and moonbeams and everything.” Because if we live with Christ as our example, yes, we see that he gave himself to others and that he served others. Yes, he accepted people where they were but called them to be more — and called them to stop sinning, which is hard. During the season of Lent we are called by our actions and by our faith to live in unity with Christ. Ultimately the example of Christ leads to the cross, and it leads for us to give up things that lead away from him. It is painful many times. Often we do not want to give something up, but if we are in relationship with Christ we know where it leads — uniting ourselves with him on the cross.
However, we also know it leads past that. It leads to the resurrection and God keeps his promises. He answers our prayers in the fact that they may not be the answers that we want to hear but they are the answers that will lead us closer to him and are the best for us ultimately, and if we cooperate, will lead us to heaven. So as we continue to celebrate this Lent we look forward to the crucifixion because of what was accomplished with it — the ability to enter heaven, the gift to share eternal life with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are called to live changed lives because when we face the resurrection with courage and with the faith that God gives us, we are also given hope through the resurrection because we know that life does not end when we die on earth.
So we pray for the grace and the ability to serve one another, to live in accordance to what Christ calls us to, and to live our lives as an offering that we may share with the Holy Trinity for eternal life.
Father Adam Pritchard is parochial vicar at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, IL.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0033)