Reflection: Second Sunday Lent, Cycle A
March 5, 2023
There have been times when I questioned a decision I faced. I pondered positive and negative effects of a decision. I gave time to pray; time with the Scriptures in my lectio, hoping for insight and affirmation. At times I sought counsel in my dilemma, sharing my concern with a trusted friend.
In Matthew’s Gospel selection for today we hear how Jesus took three of his trusted friends, Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. We know Jesus, mindful of the opposition to his teachings and, despite warnings, decided to go to Jerusalem where rejection will be intensified, leading to his death. Did he converse with his friends as they walked to the mountain? Did Jesus try to prepare them for what they were to witness?
On the mountaintop, among his trusted friends, Christ is transfigured. The three are witnesses to a bewildering, grace-filled event. Jesus’ human and divine natures are revealed in this moment of contemplative awe. The three witness Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah. We are told in Luke’s Gospel they spoke of Jesus’ exodus. Did they speak of his mission? Did Jesus question Moses and Elijah about their ministry and their endurance? Was Jesus searching for more clarity for his decisive journey to Jerusalem?
Could Jesus have asked Moses, leader of God’s chosen people: what prompted you go forward, leading this stiff-necked people across the desert to the land promised to Abram?
And Jesus may have questioned Elijah, prophet to the Israelites, who endured multiple trials: how did God speak with you? What helped you to persist in your ministry as prophet?
Might they have responded, “You, Jesus, will suffer rejection, misunderstanding and death. You are the redeemer sent by God, the completion of what we and other prophets foretold. Jesus, you, God’s Son, know love is the only way of fulfilling what we desired for God’s people, eternal salvation. For the sake of God’s people, love your way through this journey to new life.”
The brilliance of the cloud and a voice interrupted Peter’s suggestion to build three tents. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him.” These were words that clarified Jesus’ relationship with God the one he calls Father. The voice confirmed his mission of redemption for God’s people by way of his journey to Jerusalem and the suffering on Calvary. The love of Father for Son is confirmed, and the Father is pleased with the Son. Peter, James, and John learn that Divine sonship issues forth in human communion with others.
In the first reading, Abram listened, heard God’s call, God’s voice to leave his homeland for a land of promise. God was with him. St. Paul reminds us in the second reading from the second letter of Timothy we are called to a holy life, according to God’s plan and grace and the light and life of the Gospel. As followers of Christ, we received the gift of God’s love in baptism and the call to live in loving relationship. We too are God’s beloved daughters and sons. Our response to God’s loving initiative of grace is enduring and life-long.
The season of Lent provides opportunity for us to decide again to follow the way Christ taught. Lent helps us to let God’s light and love shine through us in our service and ministry to others. Lent is time for transformation, to listen anew to God’s voice, to deepen our relationship with God that God’s light is manifest in our life together as followers of St. Benedict. My response to God’s initiating call, my decision, is to be with and for others in Jesus’ name in loving relationship.
I close with a quote from Benedict XVI, which reflects the lives of all Christians and defines my search for God as well as my quest for certainty on my life’s journey. Pope Benedict wrote, “being Christian . . . is an encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” May we encounter Christ in new ways this Lent.