Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent, Year C (12 & 13/3/22)

posted 14 Mar 2022, 03:01 by Parish Office

Who are the “enemies of the cross of Christ” that St Paul refers to today in the second reading? One of the more accepted theories is that they were a group known as the Gnostics, with the word Gnostic deriving from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis. Gnostics, of course, are not to be confused with Agnostics, but there is a link. If gnosis means knowledge, then to be agnostic means to claim that you do not know, specifically with regard to God, heaven and so on. The Gnostics claimed that they had secret knowledge about God, so they disregarded certain parts of the Gospels. They said that God the Son had not become one of us as a man, and also denied the resurrection of the body. They seemed to think that they were superior to “normal” Christians, and that theirs was a spiritual existence, which had no time for embracing the cross of Christ – they were already living resurrected lives. As they were so “perfect” already, they thought they could embrace things normally regarded as sins, without being affected. Their ideas were corrupting Christianity, and that is why St Paul was encouraging the Christians in Philippi to remain faithful to what he had taught them.

But are such ideas a million miles away from what we might sometimes encounter today? Do we not today have people who think they are faultless, who “make foods into their god and … are proudest of something they ought to think shameful; the things they think important are earthly things”? It seems that those who have an excessively and distortedly “spiritual” view of themselves are as much in error as those who have a much more “material” view of who they are.

The Transfiguration blasts away all these errors. God the Son became one of us, a human being, without ceasing to be God, and in the Transfiguration the glory of God shone through His humanity. For a short while, Peter, John and James witnessed just how amazing Christ is. But they were also afraid. And they were perhaps even more afraid when the cloud, indicating the presence of God, descended on them and encompassed them.

Christ wasn’t just transfigured and standing there by Himself, however. He was accompanied by Moses and Elijah, who also appeared in glory, and we can be transformed and glorified too. In the second reading, St Paul tells us to ignore what the gnostics believe: “the Lord Jesus Christ … will

transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body”. In other words, our bodies are important, and need to be treated with appropriate care, not given over to shameful things. They have a future destiny to be glorified by God when He returns in glory at the end of time. Elsewhere, St Paul says about not sinning against the body – our bodies have been bought and paid for by the blood of Christ, and now that we are baptised, we are members of the Body of Christ. We could perhaps add that, just as we treat the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, with appropriate respect, in the same way we have to treat our own bodies, and those of others, the mystical Body of Christ, with appropriate reverence too.

To sum up, both body and soul are important, both ours and those of people around us. Christ has been transfigured, and following any other ideas will only lead us into error and opposition to Christ. But if we are faithful, we can look forward to enjoying the company of almighty God, not just with our souls, but also with glorified bodies