Homily: Second Sunday of Lent Year B The Transfiguration

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Homily: Second Sunday of Lent Year B

 

Reading 1: Last Sunday we heard of the covenant God made with Noah after the flood. The sign of that covenant was the rainbow.  The reason for the flood was the spread of sin. Much later after the flood, God invited Abraham to follow him. He promised him many blessings, many descendants and a new land flowing with milk and honey.

 

For many years Abraham did not see any descendants. His wife Sarah remain childless. Finally, after she was beyond the natural age of conceiving a child, God appeared to Abraham and said that Sarah would bear a son, whose name was to be Isaac. This was the beginning of God fulfilling his promises to Abraham. After the birth of Isaac God made a covenant with Abraham. The sign of the covenant was circumcision.

 

When Isaac was about twelve, God put Abraham to the test. The question in Abraham’s mind is why would God give him a son and then demand the sacrifice of his only begotten son? The question was would Abraham trust that God could still provide him descendants? Could he obey God in this matter?

 

Abraham chose to trust and to be obedient, even though he didn’t understand. But instead of the death of Isaac, God wanted Abraham to see how strong his response to the covenant was. Abraham chose God rather than self. Isaac’s life was spared.

 

There is a deeper meaning here. Though Abraham’s only beloved son was spared, God, the Father, did not spare his only begotten Son from embracing the cross. Jesus gave his life for ours on the cross, so that we could be spared eternal death and be saved. In this gift Jesus established and sealed the new covenant through the shedding of his blood.

 

Gospel: Last Sunday, we looked at the temptation that Jesus endured as the first stage of his life as our Messiah. He came to confront and overcome the pseudo power of the devil. The temptations were the first volley. Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross would be the final blow that would defeat and break the diabolic bond Satan held over humanity.

 

In preparation for this ultimate moment, Jesus prophesied to the disciples his upcoming passion and death and resurrection. Peter rejected the thought. So Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him up the mountain to pray with him. There Jesus’ experiences the glory that he emptied himself of by becoming man and the glory he would experience once more in the resurrection. This was the Father’s way of preparing Jesus for his passion. It was also to strengthen the apostles.

 

In the vision Moses represented the Law of the Old Testament and Elijah the prophets. Both of them spoke of his upcoming passion and resurrection. Just as at the baptism the Father revealed himself and the Spirit is manifested, so now the Father tells the apostles to listen to Jesus. In other words, heed the words of Jesus about his upcoming passion and death, even though they did not understand.

 

Our theophany or epiphany moments may not be as dramatic, but their purpose is the same. 1) To reveal to us the person of Jesus in a clearer light, seeing or experiencing him in a way we have never done before. 2) To remind us to listen to Jesus, even when we don’t understand. To act on his word. 3) To recognize that God desires to share his eternal glory with us, but first we must experience the mystery of the cross in our life. The cross is that which strips us of everything except God in our life.

 

Reading 2: Where God spared the son of Abraham from being sacrificed, God did not spare his own Son, Jesus, from the wood of the cross and the sacrifice of his life freely for our sake. Is this a sign of God’s condemnation of us or a sign of his love? “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

 

 God tested the commitment of Abraham to God, even if he asked for the death of his promised son. Jesus embraced the will of God to be the sacrificial lamb, a perfect offering for our sins. Abraham loved God. Jesus loved the Father. God so loved us that the gift of Jesus’ life for our salvation was not too much to ask. One can look at the crucified Savior and see nothing but what appears on the surface. Or one can look at the crucified Lord and see the depth of his love for us.  “Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his friends.” But greater is that love, when one lays down his life for his enemies, those who deliberately chose to sin and to separate themselves from God, not one but repeatedly even after saying they were sorry. The reality of his sacrifice must be seen in context of the repetitive cycle of our sinfulness. That is true love. 

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