Homily of the II Sunday of Lent
Saint Louis King of France – Memphis, TN
Rev. Fr. Carlos Donato, MDiv.
Look up to the Sky, says the Lord our God!
Dear brothers and sisters, we arrived at the second Sunday of Lent. One week had passed since we started our great retreat of lent which is preparing us to the celebration of the principal mysteries of our redemption: The Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Today’s readings talk about covenant, hope and eternal life. God makes his covenant with Abraham, our father in faith, Jesus show his divinity to some of his disciples, who will in a few weeks experience theignominy of the cross and the silence of the tomb. But after all the hope given to them by the transfigured Lord will give them strength to follow The Master until the last minute.
On the first reading we find Abraham who is a nomad who left his land and is searching for a place to stablish himself. For years he has been moving from one place to another without a final destination. Now he has aged and has not yet descendants or a land. His life looks like is about to end without a good end. He is alone, without descendent or land to stablish a place to live. But one day it will change drastically. At the right time the Lord reveled to Abraham that what he has been desiring his whole life it is about to be given to him. He will have land and descendants. The reading says: “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession” (Gn 7.19). says the Lord. And then He continues promising him numerous descendants “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can just so, ‘he added’ shall your descendants be” (Gn7,5).
After listening to these promises Abraham believed and trusted in the Lord. He was sure that the Lord will never delude him. This faith in God made Abraham worth to be called just. It means that God considers Abraham just not because the patriarch did extraordinary things but because he trusted the Lord and made a just relationship with the Lord. He trusted his words and his promises. Abraham was firm in his faith even when apparently everything was against Abraham certitude and could bring him to doubt God’s promises.
God’s answer to Abraham’s faith is a covenant between him and Abraham. At that time between the Mesopotamic people a solemn covenant was celebrate through a ceremony where some animals were cut in pieces and the parties stablishing the covenant walked thru the animal’s pieces saying: “If I do not fulfill my promise may It be done to me like it was done to this animals”. At the second part of this reading God does the rite of oath establishing the covenant between Him and Abraham. The Lord says to Abraham: “Bring me a three-year-old heifer a three-year-old she-got, a three–year–old ram … Abraham brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other” (Gn7). We need to pay attention to one particular detail, only God did the gesture of the rite of covenant. Only God walked between the animal’s pieces. “When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces”. Abraham did not walk between the animal’s pieces. God’s promises are unconditional and does not ask nothing in change. He knows that the descendants of the patriarch will be unfaithful and infidel. During the dessert time they even will think that the Lordbrought them there to die. Brethren, Abraham is showing us that we must trust in God and in his covenant. During this sacred season of lent we must remember and repent every time that we were unfaithful to God or we doubt of Him or his promises to us. God always is faithful but we must recognize our unfaithfulness to him and his promises.
On the other hand, the Gospel today presents to us the transfiguration of Jesus to his closed disciples. Jesus calls Peter, John and James to go with him to the mountain to pray. Our Savior selected these disciples for a reason. Peter is the one who will confirm his brethren faith, John the beloved disciple is the one who will be all the time at the feet of the cross and James who will be the first bishop of Jerusalem and the first to give his life up in martyrdom as a witness of Jesus. He wants to show to these apostles that after the torments of his passion there is the glory of the resurrection which witness they will be.
The gospel says that Jesus is going up to the mountain to pray. It is during this intense moment of prayer that our blessed Lord understand that he is called to save the world not by a triumphant way but through the suffering and martyrdom on the Cross. During his prayer Jesus face change he is transfigured in front of his apostles. During his prayer Jesus face changes he wants to show to his entourage that his sacrifice will be not ended with in the suffering and disgrace of the cross but it will end in the joy of his glorious resurrection.
During this mystical experience two people appear with Jesus. They are Moises and Elijah. They are representing the Law and the Prophets. They represent the whole old covenant. All Israel’s sacred books have the finality to lead to Jesus. Without Jesus the old covenant is not understandable. Saint Luke in his gospel says that they were talking about the passion. The passaging of Jesus from this world to the Father who is explained by the law and the prophets of the old Testament. In Jesus all Israel prophesies are accomplice and fulfilled.
Another detail is the cloud that in the biblical language is a signal of God’s presence. Peter, James and John are involved in this cloud of glory in God’s atmosphere which makes them understand the way of their master. They understand that the Master will suffer, die and be humiliated at the same time they realized that this will also be their path and them they are trouble and afflicted. At this conflicted moment a voice come from the cloud and says “Listen to him”. Only listening to Jesus our afflictions and indecisions can have an end. Only under Jesus direction we can conquer our fears and enjoy Jesus pathway.
The vision is over! There is no more Moises or Elijah. They are gone. At the end there is only Jesus. He is alone! This explain to us that the function of the law and the prophets is appointing to Jesus in order that we can understand him. During our lives we must listening and be attentive to Jesus teachings specially during this sacred season of lent. Looking to the faith of Abraham and his example of commitment to God’s promises and consequently to the disciples’ reaction to the vision of Jesus’ Glory we are called to conversion in order to one day be counted among the elects and faithful people. It is still time to conversion and to be open to salvation listening to the voice that once to the disciples and now for us says listen to him.