for the second Sunday of Lent
Gen 12:1-4a - 2 Tm 1:8b-10 - Mt 17:1-9
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
Gen 12:1, Now the Lord said to Abram, «Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2, And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3, I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.» 4, So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.
Each year, the second Sunday of Lent is consecrated to honoring the Mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Today's first reading recounts the call or vocation of Abram, who would later be called Abraham (cf. Gen 17:5). God calls Abram to leave his country, in order to become the spiritual father of a great nation, that of the Sons and Daughters of God! Today, thanks to our vocation as Christians, a vocation that is rooted in our baptism, we are the members of this great nation promised by God to Abram!
We might be tempted to spend our entire life seeking a certain happiness, one that we think we can find on earth. If we live in this way, I fear it is misfortune that awaits us, not happiness... For happiness, if it exists on earth, is but ephemeral. Now, our heart is too great to be satisfied with anything that does not last: our heart is in the image of God, our heart can only be satisfied by the happiness of Heaven, the eternal happiness of God himself!
This is why, strengthened by the grace of God who calls him, Abram leaves his home, he leaves his country, he abandons his father, to respond to God's call: Abram thus becomes a man, a true man, one according to the Heart of God! Each of us, whether man or woman, can remain at our simple human level, we can turn our nose up at God's call. But we can also listen to the tender murmur of the Word of God, which calls us to become, not just men, but also adopted Sons of God!
There are two levels in life: natural life, and supernatural life. Nothing obliges us to live the supernatural life. For it is a life of love, of the Love of God and men. Now, love is free, it is not forced. Let us take a look at where our heart is: towards who or what does it lean the most? Let us ask the Virgin Mary to shift our balance a little in order for our heart to lean more towards the supernatural life, which leads us to Heaven and turns us away from hell!
2 Tm 1:8b-10
2 Tm 1:8b, Join me in suffering for the gospel in the power of God, 9, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, 10, and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Saint Paul addresses himself today to his dear disciple Timothy. The Apostle is in prison; soon he will be decapitated. So we understand why he writes: "Join me in suffering for the gospel". This may sound severe to our poor twenty-first century ears... Today, if someone suffers, he would ask to be given medicine to make him feel better. He would be right to do so. But in certain cases, it is better to suffer. For I speak of salvific suffering! Saint Paul does not invite Timothy to suffer for no reason; he specifies that the grace of God calls him to give himself without reservation to the Love of God: "Join me in suffering for the gospel in the power of God." If, with Paul, we wish to participate one day in the happiness of God in Heaven, let us take upon ourselves a small share of the sufferings of Christ, who, once and for all, suffered in his own body, but who continues to suffer in his Mystical Body on earth...
Mt 17, 1-9
Mt 17:1, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. 2, And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. 3, And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4, And Peter said to Jesus, «Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.» 5, He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, «This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.» 6, When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. 7, But Jesus came and touched them, saying, «Rise, and have no fear.» 8, And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. 9, And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, «Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead.»
The Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor shows, to all who truly want to believe it, that Jesus is at the same time both true God and true Man. For the divinity of Jesus shines through his humanity. This is what Saint Matthew described by saying that "his face shone like the sun" (Matt 17:2). The face, and thus the head, is truly the part of the body that is dominant in Jesus, and which, above all, serves to express in human words the Word of Life that he is as the Son of God: it is through the head and the face of Jesus that the Word of God is manifested to men.
So it was altogether fitting for the Father, the very Principle of all the divinity, to intervene at that time to say, of his Son Jesus: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." (Matt 17:5) Like Abram, like the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, like all the saints of Heaven, let us listen to Jesus, who calls us, in the Holy Spirit! Let us no longer live solely the life of the earth, but let us also live, thanks to God, the Life of Heaven !