The readings for the second Sunday in Lent are fascinating in their implications and far-reaching in the direction they offer our lives.
Let’s begin with God’s invitation to Abraham to go to a new land. It’s obvious that God is beginning something new with Abraham. He wants to form a people in a new way of thinking. Received customs are no longer good enough. God will lead Abraham into a new land and form his descendants in a new way.
He promises Abraham that He will bless him and make his descendants numerous, and make them a great blessing for all nations.
What God promises Abraham, He also promises all of us. We too are to leave, by virtue of our baptism, the land of our inheritance and enter into a new kingdom. We are to graciously accept the virtuous behaviors we have received, but we need to learn how to distinguish the virtuous behaviors we have received from the unredeemed values we have absorbed.
Rejecting the flawed behaviors we have received from our ancestors isn’t easy. It takes a lot of prayerful discernment over a lifetime.
For this reason, Paul tells us in the second reading, “Bear your share of the hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.” None of us can enter into the kingdom of heaven the way we are. Also, we don’t want to enter into heaven with others who are untransformed. We all need a profound inner change before we are fit to enter into God’s holiness. Therefore, Paul wisely warns us that we need to be generous in allowing the Gospel the freedom to point out some profound changes we need to embrace, if we are to be transformed.
The Gospel gives us a glimpse of the kind of transformation that is in store for us in the kingdom of glory. For Peter, James and John, this was a surprise trip up Mount Tabor, although not as surprising as the road up to Calvary. This trip was to help them put Calvary into perspective.
Notice the beauty of this scene. Jesus “was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light.” They witnessed the glory of Jesus break through His flesh and through His clothing. This was right up Peter’s alley. He objected to the predictions of the cross, but to this he didn’t object. “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
“While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.’” Up to this time, this was the most transformative experience Peter ever had, although he totally forgot this scene later when Jesus was on trial in the courtyard.
Don’t get upset if you find yourself making big mistakes. Peter has outdone you in that category, and yet he eventually qualified for glory. If God can do something glorious for Peter, He also has you and I covered.
It’s good to revisit this scene in prayer often. This scene was given to Peter, James and John to help them eventually recover from the memory of the Crucifixion. The more you focus on the glory that is to be yours someday, the easier it will be to bear the hardships for the Gospel.
This is what St. Therese the Little Flower did. She copied into her diary two pages from Father Charles Arminjon’s book: “The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life.” This was the inspiration behind her saying that if God revealed to her that she was the greatest sinner in the world, she would run to Him and jump into His lap because she knows that He would forgive her.
Here are the last few lines of this quote from the Little Flower. It is the heavenly Father speaking: “If I bring my servants and friends into my house, if I console them and make them thrill with joy by unfolding them in the embrace of my charity, this satisfies their thirst and their desire superabundantly, and it is more than the perfect repose their hearts require; but it is not enough for the gratification of my Divine heart, for the repletion and perfect satisfaction of my Love.
“I must be the soul of their souls, I must penetrate and imbue them with my divinity as fire penetrates iron; by showing myself to their spirits, undisguised, unveiled, without the intervention of the senses. I must unite myself to them in an eternal face-to-face, so that my glory illuminates them, exudes and radiates through all the pores of their being, so that ‘knowing me as I know them, they may become Gods themselves.’”
Yes, we would do well to go back to the scene of the Transfiguration to nurture ourselves with the scenes of glory that will someday be ours! We would do well to nurture our prayer life by other visions of glory we find in the Scriptures, especially Isaiah, chapter 6, as well as chapters 4 and 5 of the Book of Revelation. We hope to be spending eternity relishing in these scenes of glory. Why not make them a part of our daily prayer today?
Finally, how much regret will you have for all eternity for not spending more time watching TV?