7th / 8th March 2020

posted 9 Mar 2020, 04:37 by Parish Office

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent, Year A (7 & 8/3/20)

 

Back in 2009 I made a pilgrimage, together with a group of deacons and priests, to the Holy Land, and one of the places we visited was Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration took place.  And I can tell you that the Gospel is accurate – it is a high mountain.  We travelled so far up by coach, and then after that we had to get into taxis for the very steep, narrow, winding road taking us up to the top.  And at the top there is a church commemorating the Transfiguration.  Obviously, back in Our Lord’s time, there was none of these.  They would have had a very difficult, sustained walk, to get up to the top, and probably would have had to stop a few times and catch their breath.  Depending on the weather, they might have had a beautiful view when they reached the top; but it could have been misty instead.

 

Either way, the most important thing when they were there was the Transfiguration.  Over the years, quite a few artists have tried to depict what it must have been like when a glimpse of Christ’s divinity was seen by Peter, James and John.  In fact all three persons of the Most Holy Trinity were present:  the Father spoke, Christ shone in glory, and the Holy Spirit was represented by a cloud – and don’t forget it was the pillar of fire and cloud that led the Israelites through the desert in Moses’ day.

 

The disciples led quite a busy life – at one point it says that there were so many people coming and going that the didn’t even have time to eat – so you can understand why Peter, James and John might not have wanted to leave:  we’re on our own here, with the Lord.  What more do you need?  There are times in our lives when we experience great joy in prayer, going to Mass, or other occasions with God.  We wish things could always be that way.  If only every time we came to Mass it could be like this!  But our life as Christians isn’t supposed to be one big party from start to finish.  Christ had to descend the mountain, and later on be crucified; Peter, James and John had to follow in their master’s steps, and be prepared to suffer for Him.  Do we think we can be exempt?  Sometimes we hope we might be, but it’s an illusion.  The cross is part of our lives.  Moses, when He met God on Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments, couldn’t stay up there forever.  He had to go down the mountain, and then he found that the people had been unfaithful whilst he had been away.  They had taken their gold and made a calf out of it, and were worshipping it.  And what’s more, his brother Aaron had helped them do it.  Aaron was perhaps a bit embarrassed, and he lies by saying that he got together people’s gold, threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.  You can imagine Moses thinking, “Hmm… a likely story”.

 

But what happens to Christ?  After He descends from Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration took place, He later on goes to Jerusalem, where He casts out the money-changers from the Temple.  This time they haven’t made a calf out of gold, but, in the place where God is worshipped, it seems that some people are turning a false god – money.  So He cleanses the Temple.  What about ourselves?  We find that, after this celebration, we need to look at our own lives and see what needs cleansing from our hearts.  Do we live by all ten of the Commandments, or do we conveniently forget one or two of them?  Do we have other things or persons in our lives that we treat as more important than God, that take priority and first place instead of God?  Do we steal, but try to justify it?  Do we live a pure life?  Do we honour those in charge over us, as well as our own parents?  Do we allow ourselves to be consumed by love of material things?  (It’s Lent, so I can pile on the guilt.)

 

After the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John were to see the Lord transfigured again.  Not in glory, but this time into the Man of Sorrows, sweating blood in the garden of Gethsemane.  That same Jesus they had seen in glory, was now being crushed like a grape to make wine.  He had told us, “take up your cross and follow me”, and now He was going to lead by example.  And in that way, the prophecy made to Abram in the first reading was to be fulfilled:  “All of the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you”.  At the time when that prophecy was made, Abram couldn’t see, in all its detail, how it was going to be fulfilled.  He simply had to trust in God and step forward in faith.  We can’t always know what God’s future plans for us are.  But like Our Lady saying “yes” at the Annunciation, we say “yes” to the Lord and place everything in His hands.  Perhaps our impact on society might be small.  Perhaps it might be greater.  Certainly, by working together as the Church, it can be.  St Paul tells us in the second reading:  “With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God”.  Relying on the power of God … that is what we have to do.  Take things to prayer.  Ask for God’s will to be done.  Ask Him to transfigure our lives, so we can radiate Him to others.  Sometimes people might see the transfigured Christ in us, at other times the Man of Sorrows.  The important thing is that we are faithful.  We leave the rest to God.

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