“Listen to him” (Matthew 17:5).
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22.
2 Timothy 1:8-10.
In last Sunday’s readings, the Church placed before us the theme of sin and its remedy of God’s love and mercy. This Sunday’s readings speak of how God manifests this love and mercy.
In Today’s first reading God makes several promises to Abram (whose name God later changes to Abraham [Genesis 17:5]): to form a people through whom he reveals himself, and to bestow a blessing on all humanity (Gen 12:1-4). Pouring out his love and mercy on the Old Testament’s nation of Israel, God makes them a people and draws them into his own family. For this reason, today’s Psalm sings God’s praises as his eyes are “upon those who hope for his kindness” (Psalm 33:18). And what greater kindness could God bestow than by making us his children? This is the Gospel, the Good News, as Saint Paul asserts in today’s second reading taken from his Second Letter to Timothy. By saving us, God brings us to live a holy life, the life of being his sons and daughters, which is a pure gift because it is “not according to our works but according to his own design” (2 Timothy 1:9). Nevertheless, since such a gift is not the ‘way of the world,’ Paul tells us it comes with hardships, which can only be born “with the strength that comes from God” (2 Timothy 1:8). This is why the Church places before us Matthew’s account of Jesus’ transfiguration in today’s Gospel.
On this Second Sunday of Lent, holy Mother Church encourages us to persevere in our Lenten penances—which typify the hardships Christians bear from the world—by reminding us of the power and glory of the Resurrection in Christ, as anticipated in his transfiguration. In all three synoptic accounts of Jesus’ transfiguration (see Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-15; Luke 4:1-13), we see that it marks the beginning of his final journey from Galilee to Jerusalem where he will suffer crucifixion. The three synoptic writers position it here in their Gospel narrative to remind Jesus’ disciples (and us) that as they follow Jesus to Jerusalem, Calvary and the Cross, they should not lose sight of the glory to come for those who persevere in following Jesus, and living the holy life of divine sonship or daughtership. If we endure the Cross with Christ, we too shall share in his glorious Resurrection!
A voice from the cloud declares of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’” (Matthew 17:5). As the only begotten Son of God Jesus is the blessing on all humanity promised to Abram, and the One who draws all nations—not just Israel—into the Kingdom of God’s family (the Church).
So, like Peter, James and John, who witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration, let us go forth to Jerusalem as we “Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5).
Artwork: ‘The Transfiguration’ by Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520).
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