The readings from the Second Sunday of Lent point out that the invisible God reveals to each of us His invitation to turn to Him for salvation.
In the first reading, God reveals to Abram that He is the creator of heaven and earth. He then instructs how to prepare animals for a sacrifice: Divide each animal in two and then place the halves opposite the other.
It was customary at the time, that when two people made an agreement, or covenant, with each other, they would slaughter animals, placing the halves in this way. Then the two agreeing parties would walk between these separated parts, sealing their commitment to an agreement, as if to say: “Let what happened to these animals, also happen to the one who breaks this agreement.”
After Abram prepared the animal sacrifice, God put him into a deep sleep. When he awakened, and the sun had set, “there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. It was on that occasion that the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I will give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.’”
In this deep quiet, God revealed to Abram that he was to be the father of many nations. This promise energized his descendants to endure 400 years of slavery as well as 40 additional years wandering in the desert until they entered the Promised Land.
In the second reading, Paul also holds out God’s promise: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with His glorified body by the power that enables Him also to bring all things into subjection to Himself.”
Recall that Saul was a murderer when God called him to repentance and made him an apostle of mercy. From that day forward, God was alive in Paul’s heart, moving him to proclaim the good news day after day, suffering after suffering, rejection after rejection. Throughout all of this, God was intimately present to Paul, encouraging him to move fearlessly forward.
This second reading reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven … .”
Not only is He alive in our hearts at the present time, but He also labors to bring our hearts into conformity with His. That is the power of God alive within us.
Why should we turn against ourselves when we make a mistake? Our Savior has far more mercy than we have sins. He is asking us to turn to Him for mercy and salvation. He will never give up on us, why should we?
Our heavenly Father has tasked Jesus to bring us into the kingdom. All Jesus needs from us is our permission for Him to transform us. He asks us to sacrifice our sinfulness in exchange for His kingdom of mercy and peace within our hearts, even while on this earth. Every time we repent, we experience the peace that someday will be ours for eternity.
Prayer, reading Scripture and worthy reception of the sacraments are essential for inner transformation and downloading the peace of Christ into our hearts. Every day we remind ourselves in prayer that our citizenship isn’t in watching the evening news, nor making more money, nor enjoying more pleasure. Our citizenship is in heaven and from there we listen to His calling.
In the Gospel, the Transfiguration of Jesus is a heart-warming scene that invites us again and again to enter into God’s promises for us.
The closer Jesus gets to His passion, the more He takes time alone in prayer to prepare. For human companionship, He takes His three close friends, Peter, James and John.
As He enters into profound conformity with His Father’s will that He suffer crucifixion, His inner spirit becomes so radiantly bright that it shines through His garments. This creates an atmosphere of love and acceptance that prompts Peter to exclaim: “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While Peter was still speaking, a great cloud came over them, and they were frightened when they entered the cloud. “Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.’”
Not only was the Father addressing Jesus His beloved Son, but He was calling everyone who follows Jesus His beloved child, and He invites followers to call Him our beloved Father! That is the intimacy that the Father wishes each of us to have.
As we enter into this second week of Lent, let’s give Jesus greater permission to transform us. Perhaps it means making a good confession. Perhaps it means making a commitment to read the Bible or attend Mass daily. Perhaps it means praying for someone who is deeply alienated from us. Perhaps it means redoubling our prayers for family members who have drifted away from Mass attendance.
Do not allow this Lent to pass you by, leaving you unchanged. Spend some time in prayer, asking the Lord what He wants you to do, then “Do whatever He tells you!”