Saturday, February 16, 2008

Second Sunday of Lent Year A

Second Sunday of Lent Year A
February 17, 2008
St. Vincent’s Chapel 11:00 AM

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our hearts..

The contemporaries of Jesus longed to be free.
For centuries they had been a pawn of different Empires.
They were occupied, exiled and exploited over and over again.

And deep in the heart of every Israelite there was the dream to be free.
They longed to be the guardians of their own destiny.
The desired to be respected and the masters of their own fate.

And so deep in their psyche was the dream
the hope,
that a Messiah king would return
to throw out the Romans
and restore them to their rightful place in the world

That whenever anyone said the word Messiah,
that dream, that hope,
stirred in their hearts

There are those who even say that Jesus must have held that dream for a while.

The Baptism confirmed his mission and special relationship with God
The temptations in the dessert helped him discern how he would see it through
They helped him let go of the dream of the Messiah King and embrace the cross.

And so you see after the Apostles had been with him for a while.
After they had come to know him and trust him and believe in him
Jesus had to bring them to a new understanding of his role in the salvation of humanity...
No easy task to be sure.

Just before this passage of the transfiguration he announces for the first time that he would have to die and give his life for many.
It must have been quite a shock to them.

The depth of their conviction
and belief in the contemporary understanding of the Messiah
can be seen in Peter’s response to the prophecy of the cross.
He began to argue with Jesus

He was so far off base that it even seems that he almost inadvertently tempted Jesus….
Jesus responded "Get behind me Satan you are a burden
an obstacle to me."
It would have been so easy to walk away from the cross even Jesus was tempted

So what was Jesus to do?
How could he win over the hearts of his disciples to this deeper more profound understanding of God’s plan?

With the transfiguration he shows them his glory…

With the transfiguration he shows them his special relationship with God…
“This is my beloved Son listen to Him”

With the transfiguration he shows that he is the fulfillment law and the prophets.

With the transfiguration he gives Peter James and John something to hold on to
Something to remember when all seems lost.

It is not easy to let go of things
It is not easy to divest oneself of mistaken ideas and dreams
It is not easy to leave behind all those things which hold us back from becoming the people God called us to be.

In the first reading God calls Abraham to leave all of his possessions
all that was familiar to him
all his friend and relatives
and follow him to a strange and foreign land.

Only after he took this risk was did God bless and “make his name great”
It seems that part and parcel of following God’s will is letting go of our own

We have to be willing to surrender ourselves
Empty ourselves
and step out into the void with trust and faith

In the second reading St. Paul promises that God will give us the strength we need to surrender ourselves to His plan.

“Bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.”

The transfiguration was Jesus’ way of proving to those whom he loved
That he was indeed right when he prophesied about the cross.

Moses was the giver of the law…
He appeared on the Mountain to give his authority
The authority of the law over to Jesus

Elijah was supposed to be the last prophet to come before the Messiah
By appearing on the mountain with Jesus he shows the Apostles
that Jesus is indeed the Messiah for whom everyone had waited so long

Did the transfiguration work ?
Where the hearts of James and John and Peter changed?
Did they let go of their old dream of a Messiah king
and accept that Jesus was indeed called to be a suffering servant ?

Peter continued to make mistakes
He refused to get his feet washed
He arrogantly promised to remain faithful
and eventually just like Judas betrayed Jesus

The only difference between he and Judas was that he refused to give up on Jesus
He refused to despair to loose hope
Was it the transfiguration?

Of all the disciples only John the youngest was brave enough to stand at the foot of the Cross.
Jesus was so grateful that he entrusted his mother to John
His willingness to risk his own life to be with Mary and Jesus
was a huge step for a man who a short while before
wanted to sit with James in the places of honor on the right and left of Jesus
What made the difference was it the transfiguration?

The Book of Acts reports that James was one of the first apostles to give his live for his faith. He never even left Jerusalem he died around 44 AD
How did this man willingly give his life for Christ ?
Did he remember his time on the mountain.

All of us have things to let go of…
Sometimes we have to let go of things we want so that we can be free to accept God’s plan

All of us struggle with God’s call to empty ourselves
Few of us long to face the cross
if given a choice most of us would run from it.

Yet following the example of Peter, James and John
We to have to trust God and we have to step up.

Like the Apostles God has given many of us
moments on the mountain.

Maybe it was a retreat
Maybe it was a moment when we really felt God’s presence
Maybe it was a grace filled confession when we really felt forgiven and whole

Like the Apostles
We have to hold on to those moments of prayer and consolation
We have to ponder and remember
these moments on the mountain with God

And fed by their memory
we will be better able to follow God’s call to discipleship
wherever it takes us
No matter what the cost.

The path of discipleship invariably leads to the cross
not priviledge
God needs heroic men and women to follow it.


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