Homily for March 20, II Sunday of Lent, cycle A
The Gospel reading of the Transfiguration is a very rich text to ponder during Lent.
Looking at this event historically, it happened shortly before the Lord’s passion and death, and was intended to strengthen the apostles for that event by giving them a glimpse of Jesus’ glory, a foretaste of the resurrection. It surely fortified their faith in Jesus’ mission and His divinity, giving them hope in the dark days that followed. The Church offers us this text early on in Lent for much the same reason. It reminds us as well that the sacrifices we offer now are aimed at helping us to be freed from sin and its effects, transformed by God’s grace. We are on the path to becoming the radiant image of the glorified Christ.
Going beyond the historical fact itself, this event can also be seen as a pattern of what our Lent should be like. Jesus took Peter, James and John away from the rest, out of the cities and towns, and up on a mountain to pray with Him. It is in this silence and prayer that the apostles have this unique experience of seeing God the Son’s glory and hearing God the Father’s voice. Lent is about reconnecting with God through prayer and sacrifice, silencing the noise of worldly distractions and hearing His voice in our hearts guiding us to holiness. As Pope Benedict said in his Lenten message, this Gospel passage is placed in Lent as an “invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God’s presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to follow the Lord.”
If we had the right to choose a different path to holiness and redemption, we probably would not have chosen one that required the Cross, fasting, and abstinence. Jesus Himself was not entirely enthusiastic about it; in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asks the Father if there is some way to avoid the suffering of the Cross. However, for Jesus, the answer was negative – suffering was a necessary part of the Father’s plan. We can expect nothing different in our own lives. As St Paul says in the second reading, “He saved us and called us to a holy life […] according to His own design”, through Jesus Christ who makes God’s grace and plan manifest to us through His own life.
It certainly is not easy sometimes, but we have to be like Abram in the first reading, and accept the path God leads us down, trusting in the Lord’s promises. This attitude is reflected in the responsorial psalm today, which speaks of the goodness of the Lord and the hope and confidence we should have in Him.
So as we continue Lent, let’s be sure we are finding time to spend alone with God in prayer, being fortified by the experience of His love, and growing in hope and peace of heart in the light of His coming resurrection.