2nd Sunday of Lent by Father Peter Chinnappan
LENT II (Feb 28) Gen 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13,15-18; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10.
The common theme of today’s readings is challenge for metamorphosis or transformation, especially during this Lent season. How? We have to transform our dull and sleepy spiritual life into dynamic Christian life during Lent. How? By cooperating with the grace of God or the strengthening of the Holy Spirit by prayer, fasting and sharing our blessings. Result expected? A renewal of our spiritual life during Lent by our Spirit-filled lives radiating Christ’s love and mercy around us.
“O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” There is a mysterious story in 2 Kings that can help us understand what is happening in the transfiguration. Israel is at war with Aram, and Elisha, the man of God, is using his prophetic powers to reveal the strategic plans of the Aramean army to the Israelites. At first the King of Aram thinks that one of his officers is playing the spy, but when he learns the truth, he dispatches troops to go and capture Elisha who is residing in Dothan. The Aramean troops move in under cover of darkness and surround the city. In the morning Elisha’s servant is the first to discover that they are surrounded and fears for his master’s safety. He runs to Elisha and says, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” The prophet answers “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” But who would believe that when the surrounding mountainside was covered with advancing enemy troops? So Elisha prays, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opens the servant’s eyes, and he looks and sees the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-23). This vision was all that Elisha’s disciple needed to reassure him. At the end of the story, not only was the prophet of God safe but the invading army was totally humiliated. (Fr. Munacci)
Scripture lessons: The first reading explains how his trusting faith in his God’s mercy and power and his blind obedience to his God’s order to sacrifice his only son of his old age, transformed the life of Abraham, making him the supreme model of Faith. Second reading: God showed His love for us by allowing the transformation of the glorious preaching and healing ministry of His Son to a tragic end, proving that God’s love has no limits. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 116) speaks of God’s distress at the death of anyone. “Too costly in the eyes of the LORD is the death of His faithful.” In the Transfiguration story in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed in His Heavenly glory, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to allow him to consult his Heavenly Father and ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death, and Resurrection. God’s secondary aim was to make Jesus’ chosen disciples aware of Jesus’ Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering political Messiah and might be strengthened in their time of trial. A third aim was to give Jesus the conviction that he will be the Son of God his loving Father even during his suffering and death. Finally, by describing the theophany of Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him.
Life messages: (1) Every sacrament we receive transforms our lives: for example, Baptism transforms us into children of God and heirs of heaven. Confirmation transforms us to brave witnesses of and warriors for Christ. Reconciliation transforms sinners to saints. (2) The “transfiguration” in the Holy Mass is the source of our strength: In each Holy Mass, the bread and wine we offer on the altar are transformed into the crucified and risen, living body and blood of Jesus by transubstantiation. Just as Jesus’ transfiguration strengthened the apostles in their time of trial, each holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against temptations, and our renewal during Lent. In addition, our Holy Communion with the living Jesus should be the source of our daily “transfiguration,” transforming our minds and hearts so that we may do more good, by humble and selfless service to others. (3) Christ’s transfiguration gives us the message of encouragement and hope: In moments of doubt and during our dark moments of despair and hopelessness, pains and suffering, the thought of our future transformation in Heaven will help us to reach out to God and to listen to His consoling words: “This is my beloved son.” Let us offer our Lenten sacrifices to our Lord so that, through these practices of Lent and through the acceptance of our daily crosses, we may grow closer to him in his suffering, may share in the carrying of his cross and finally may share the glory of his second “transfiguration,” namely, his Resurrection.