Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2nd Sunday of Lent

Revelation and covenant.  These are two core elements of our faith.  Revelation in that God has “revealed” himself to us.  Covenant in that God seeks a continuing relationship with us.  Both these elements play an role in understanding our readings on this 2nd Sunday of Lent:

Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Psalm 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 9:28b-36

Our first reading is from the book of Genesis.  Here we witness the second covenant with Abram.  In the story of Abram (who is later named Abraham), there are three “covenant” moments.  The first, when God promises Abram that he will make from him a “great nation” with many decedents.  Our passage for Sunday reminds us of that moment in it’s opening lines.  From there we witness God’s second great promise to Abram… the gift of the land (what Moses would refer to as “the promised land).  To commemorate this moment, Abram prepares a sacrifice.  He spends the day protecting the sacrifice from scavengers but when night falls, he sees a faming torch pass between the carcasses… a sign that God has accepted his sacrifice, and in essence, “signed” the covenant.  Abram was able to make this covenant because of the trust he had developed in the Lord… a trust that is echoed in our Psalm when we sing “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”

Our second reading comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  How does one live as a Christian?  This is the question Paul is addressing with the community in Philippi.  As a basic premise, he tells them to follow the example of himself and the other Apostles.  He continues by telling them not to focus on earthly desires, but instead on higher ideals.  This revelation forms the basis of their salvation, to stay true to their faith, their covenant in Christ.

Our Gospel for this Sunday gives us Luke’s version of the Transfiguration.  Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain to pray, and during their prayer they witness Jesus transfigured… his face changed and his clothes a dazzling white.  During this time they see him conversing with Moses and Elijah.  The Apostles are amazed… dumb-struck.  They see this as a good thing, but don’t quite know what to make of it.  A cloud comes to surround them and they hear a Heavenly voice, “This is my chosen Son;  listen to him.”  This moment of the Transfiguration is considered by Christian scholars to be the establishment of the “new covenant,” linking the old  (Moses and Elijah) with the new (Jesus), with the affirmation of the Father. 

Final thoughts:
How do we see God?  In our humanity, we might find him distant, ethereal, even perhaps just theoretical construct to explain the unexplainable.  Our readings for this week, however, remind us that God not only has revealed himself to us, but actively seeks to be in relationship with us.  And not with just his prophets, not just with Jesus and the Apostles, but with all of us.  The beauty of our Gospel this Sunday is not so much the Transfiguration of Jesus, but that through Peter, James, and John, we were witness to it.  And through their witness, we continue to realize that transfiguration, that call to covenant, each time we gather to celebrate the Mass, each time we pray, each time we reach out with the love and trust that the Lord is our light and salvation.  Today and every day.

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