2nd Sunday In Lent
Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up onto a mountain to pray. While Jesus was praying, his face changed in appearance as well as the clothes he wore, which became dazzlingly white. Suddenly two people were talking with Jesus: Moses and Elijah. They appeared in glory and spoke of the passage which Jesus was about to fulfill in Jerusalem. Peter and the others had already fallen into a deep sleep; but awakening, they saw Jesus’ glory and likewise saw the two people standing hear the Anointed One. When these were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, how good it is for us to be here. Let us set up three tents – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Peter did not really know what he was saying.)
While Peter was speaking, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and the disciples grew fearful as the others entered it. Then from the cloud came a voice proclaiming, “This is my own, my Chosen One. Listen!” When the voice fell silent, Jesus was there alone. The disciples kept quiet, telling nothing of what they had seen at that time to anyone. The Good News of salvation!Homily for 07 March 2004
Rev. Bob Scanlan
Have you ever heard the phrase that a person “cut a deal” with some one? One of the examples in recent history is of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago. A book about him was entitled “Boss”. Strong labor unions which are common today and along with management determine the pay and insurance provided to employees. Before the rise of many of the unions, the late mayor would himself meet with heads of the employees and determine the salary and insurance. All it took was his handshake and a “deal was cut”.
In our first reading we heard of God taking Abram aside to make a deal with him. God showed him all He would give to him if he had FAITH in God. God asked him to cut in half the various animals. When night came and it was dark the flaming pot of fire appeared and at that time God made the covenant with Abram. For generations afterwards this same ritual was followed. People making a covenant would cut in half animals and then stand in the middle of the halves and “make their covenant”. This symbolized that if either broke the covenant their fate would be like the animals; their life would be taken. In today’s society, one party sues the other; perhaps this is more civilized. When Abram trusted in God most he was strongest and when he doubted he was weakest. Is not that the same with each of us? When we doubt God’s covenant with us are we not then starting to doubt ourselves and becoming weak in our faith?
St. Paul challenges the people of Philippi to model their life after his own. Paul in other passages uses the term “metanoia” which means total conversion. He is one of the people in scripture who had a 180 degree turn in his life. During his time of conversion and preaching many people were still stuck on the various dietary laws of the Jewish community. Paul had converted many in this city during his 3 visits there between 50 A.D. and 57 A.D. Paul uses the phrase, “Their God is their stomachs. They are occupied with earthly things.” What sets aside the Christian Community from society in general? The Christian is challenged to set aside the values of society and follow the cross of denial and sacrifice. Today, we may not be tied to the dietary laws of a different age and religious belief. What customs and traditions are we tied to? What is holding you back from following the example of Jesus of denial and serving others? Each of us needs to answer that question for ourselves.
Have you ever been on a retreat, read a good book on spirituality, or felt challenged to really, finally make a change in your life? I think Peter, James, and John had a similar but even more powerful experience in what has been called the Transfiguration. For a brief moment they experienced the glorified Jesus, seeing him as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Jesus was with Moses, representing the Old Law and with Elijah, representing the Prophets. Moses and Elijah were also warriors and had fought in many battles. For a brief glimpse Peter, James, and John were fully awake to the mission and ministry of Jesus. The ministry of Jesus was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. It was to seek out the lonely, to minister to the sick, to help the marginalized of their community. This was such an exhilarating experience that they did not want to leave. Many of us have felt that way at various times in our life. The voice said to them, “This is my son LISTEN TO “HIM”. The message of Jesus is to teach only Love. It is a message of healing and wholeness, not of battles, power and control.
However the reality is we must leave that spiritual bliss; come down from the mountain; and resume our life and responsibilities. This Lent we are challenged to come down from this transfiguring experience of Jesus, the challenge from Paul to transform our lives with the trust and Faith shown by Abram.
Will you be able to accept your challenge?