Today’s Readings Gen 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18 Rom 8:31b-34 Mark 9:2-10
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
The Lenten season continues with another story of testing. Last Sunday, we heard the trial of Jesus in the desert. In this week’s First Reading, we hear of how Abraham was put to the test.
The Church has always read this story as a sign of God’s love for the world in giving His only begotten son.
In today’s Epistle, Paul uses exact words drawn from this story to describe how God, like Abraham, did not withhold His only Son, but handed Him over for us on the cross (see Romans 8:32; Genesis 22:12,16).
These readings are given to us in Lent to reveal Christ’s identity and to strengthen us in the face of our afflictions.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, we are told to listen, not by our parents, but rather by our heavenly Father. When Jesus is transfigured in glory the voice of the Father is heard as it was at the baptism of Jesus. In both cases, the voice from the heavens declares, “This is my beloved Son.” But in Sunday’s Gospel, the voice goes on to say, “Listen to him.”
When Jesus is transfigured and shines with divine glory, Moses and Elijah appear with him. These great figures represent the Law and Prophets. They represent the teachings that the Chosen People were to listen to and obey. Those figures recede and Jesus is declared as the one to whom we are to listen. Jesus fulfils and surpasses the Law and the Prophets. God now tells us, “Listen to him.”
We listen to Jesus when we take his teachings and his example to heart and make them the guide for our own lives. By listening to Jesus we begin to be “transfigured” ourselves. We gradually become those Christian men and women God wants us to be. We shine with holiness.
This Season of Lent challenges us to consider how we are acting, how we are treating others, how we are speaking, how we are spending our money, how we are using our time and talent, and then to examine if our living is in line with the Gospel. Are we truly listening to Jesus or are we listening to ourselves and to other voices?
Parents tell their children to listen because they love them and want them to be the best they can be. That is the very same reason that God the Father tells us to listen. He wants us to listen to his Beloved Son who embodies the truth and who shows us how to find meaning and happiness in this life and everlasting life tomorrow.
It is easy to meet God in a venue specifically organized and carefully planned in hopes of creating an experience of this kind among like-minded individuals. It is harder to meet God as God in the places and times of our life that are full of confusion, chaos, and the messiness of life. It is easier to encounter God in a place far removed from the realities of our daily existence, and echo Peter in saying, “It is good that we are here! Let’s build tents and stay here awhile!”
Yet, by coming down the mountain with Jesus, returning to the complexities of the world, they set a valuable example for us. It is good to have those moments alone on our metaphorical mountaintop with God. Even Jesus needed those moments. It is important, however, to remember that when we leave that mountain, we aren’t going back alone. Jesus goes back down the mountain and back into our lives as well, just as he did after that “mountaintop moment” with Peter, James, and John. This is as much a part of the experience as the “mountaintop moment itself.”
As Jesus renews his call to our hearts through this Mass, let’s renew our response to that call.
Let’s make once again a firm, conscious commitment to follow the Father’s beloved Son, in spite of other clamoring voices, no matter where he leads.