March 8, 2020

2nd Sun., Lent

March 8, 2020:  Second Sunday of Lent

See ten connections with today?
Legend below

For the gospel

For Psalm 33
Lenten earworm 
For future celebrations
Jesus took the disciples to a high mountain, symbol of closeness to God, to open them to a fuller understanding of him, who must suffer, die, and rise.  Through the Transfiguration, they were called to recognize in him the Son of God shining with glory.  Jesus didn't choose Peter, James, and John to witness it according to human criteria:  Peter would deny Jesus, and James and John ambitiously sought first place in Jesus’ kingdom.  He chose them according to his plan of love; it was a free initiative, divine friendship asking nothing in return.  We're called the same way to be his witnesses; we don't deserve our calling, but we can't back out because we feel inadequate.  We must bear witness even though we haven't seen his face shining like the sun.  We mustn't forget that our Baptism and Confirmation have made us witnesses as a result of the gift of the Spirit.  May Mary obtain for us docility to the Spirit so that we may set out resolutely on the path of conversion.

Wordle: Readings 3-16-14
  • Gn 12:1-4a  Lord to Abram: “Go to a land I'll show you.  I'll make you a great nation and bless you; you'll be a blessing to all communities of the earth.”  Abram went as the Lord directed.
  • Ps 33:4-5, 18-20, 22  "Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you."  The Lord loves justice and right; he delivers and preserves those who hope in him.
  • 2 Tim 1:8b-10  Bear hardship for the gospel with strength from God who saved us and called us to a holy life.  Christ Jesus brought grace and life to light.
  • Mt 17:1-9  Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John; he was conversing with Moses and Elijah.  Peter:  “Good; how about if I make three tents?”  Voice from cloud:  “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”  Jesus:  “Don't fear, and don't tell anyone till the Son of Man has been raised.”
  • Creighton:  In today’s readings God calls individuals to paths they likely wouldn't have chosen themselves.  God called Abram to leave a comfortable life and follow God, leading his family on a journey.  Paul, aging and imprisoned, challenges Timothy to persevere in his mission.   I bet the transfiguration was more of an event for the apostles than for Jesus.; I would have been as afraid and confused as they must have been.  They began to see Jesus' mission unfold and were charged to share the experience.  Am I on the path God set for me?
    Преображение (Transfiguration)/ Ivanov

  • One Bread, One Body:  "The greatest":  Abram/Abraham is the father of many nations.  He was and is a blessing to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, yet the least born into God's kingdom is greater.  God's children are called to greatness.  We fulfill our potential only by listening to Jesus, the Truth of our lives and the Way to live.  Since it's hard for us to listen to and obey Jesus, we need the Father to reveal his son's divinity to us.  When we believe in it, we'll listen and submit to him. We also need the Holy Spirit to proclaim to us that "Jesus is Lord" God.  As the three witnesses listened, submitted, and became great only after the Spirit descended on them at the first Christian Pentecost, we need a new Pentecost to believe in Jesus' divinity and fulfill our call.
  • Passionist:  When we listen to Jesus, he transforms us into someone more Christlike.  We get a glimpse of who he really is.  His divinity shines bright, and we're reminded of the sacrifice he made when he became human.  Shortly after the transfiguration, he'll be disfigured:  struck, scourged, spat on, mocked, pierced, abandoned, and crucified.  Jesus will feel the Father forsook him.  We're called to accept both the Victim disfigured for our sins, and the Lord transfigured in glory.  We need to take time and listen to him.  What is he telling us?
  •  "Listen to my Son":  God promised Abraham he'd make him a channel of blessing to his family, descendants, and all familiesh, so long as Abraham went to the land he'd show him.  Abraham believed and obeyed, and God chose him as his instrument; through him would come the Messiah, who would reveal the God's glory and bring salvation to all who would call upon him.  In all Jesus did and said, he sought to please and glorify his Father.  Like Abraham, he was ready to part with anything that could stand in the way of doing God's will. He knew success depended on his willingness to do his Father's whatever the cost.  On three occasions Jesus told his disciples he'd suffer and die on a cross.  As that time approached, he took three of his beloved disciples up the mountain, appeared with Moses and Elijah, and was transfigured.  When Moses met with God on Sinai, his face shone because he had been talking with God; his face was so bright, the Israelites couldn't look at it.  After the great prophet Elijah destroyed the priests and idols of Baal, he took refuge on Sinai, where God showed him his glory, then directed him to fulfill the mission God gave him.  Jesus' appearance with them confirms he's ready to fulfill the mission the Father gave him; he knew the cross was ahead and may have discussed with them his decision to go to it.  The Father, knowing Jesus was obedient, also gave his approval:  "This is my Son; listen to him."  The cloud fulfilled the Jews' dream that when the Messiah came, the cloud of God's presence would fill the temple again.  Jesus wants to share this glory with us.  He shows us the way to glory:  "Follow me."  Jesus embraced the cross to win a crown of glory, one that awaits each of us who follows him.
Transfiguration of Christ
More Transfiguration art
"To see Jesus' transfiguration, behold and simply apprehend the Jesus of the Gospels, where he is beheld 'according to the flesh' and in his divinity.  He is beheld in the form of God according to our capacity, as he was beheld by those who went up the mountain.  Those who don't go up the mountain can still behold his works and hear his words, which are uplifting.  Jesus is transfigured before those who go up, not those below. When he is, he shines, that he may be manifested to the children of light, who have put off works of darkness and put on the armor of light. They walk honestly as in the day.  He will shine to them as the sun of righteousness" (Origen, Commentary on Matthew).
Luke's Gospel tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God's glory and action because we are asleep spiritually? There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the "unexamined life" can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ. Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God.  As Peter, James, and John witnessed the glory of Christ, so are we called to be its witnesses:   "We with unveiled face, beholding the Lord's glory, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another...."
Querida Amazonia nugget:  Communities filled with life

The Eucharist signifies and realizes Church unity.  Presiders must foster communion, unity welcoming the variety of gifts and charisms.  Eucharist requires development of that variety.  Priests are necessary, but permanent deacons, Sisters, and lay persons can also foster communal growth.  Besides facilitating a greater presence of ordained ministers, we should also awaken new life in communities, promoting an encounter with God’s word and growth in holiness through lay service calling for education and ongoing formation.

A Church with Amazonian features needs lay leaders with authority who know the languages, cultures, spiritual experience, and communal way of life, and are open to the Spirit's gifts.  The Church must trust in and permit the growth of a lay ecclesial culture.  The challenges can only be met through vigorous, broad, active lay involvement.  Consecrated life has a special place too but needs a new impetus to inculturation to combine creativity, missionary boldness, sensitivity, and strength.  Base communities have also been authentic experiences of synodality; they've helped form committed Christians, disciples, and missionaries, even martyrs.

I encourage efforts to establish collaborative ministry among the region's local churches.  Because of internal mobility and migration in the region, projects can't depend on stable communities, so itinerant missionary teams should be considered and support provided for consecrated persons close to the most impoverished and excluded, and urban communities should find ways to be close and welcoming to families and youth arriving from the interior. [IV:91-98]
    • Senanbishop, apostle of Ireland, monastery founder; see Clare Library's article.
    • Duthac, bishop
Dress legend
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  The Lord's eyes are on those who fear him (psalm); the disciples raised their eyes and saw only Jesus (gospel)
  • 'Clock' pin:  Our soul waits for the Lord (psalm) [nothing to do with the start of Daylight Saving Time]
  • 'Shield' pin:  The Lord, our help and our shield (psalm)
  • 'Bear' tie bar:  'Bear' your share of hardship for the gospel (2nd reading)
  • 'Alps' tie pin:  Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain (gospel)
  • 'Sun' pin:  Jesus' face shone light the sun (gospel)
  • Dazzling white shirt (and socks):  Transfiguration (gospel)
  • Tie with bright cloud:  A bright cloud cast a shadow over them (gospel) 
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

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