Tag Archive: lent


Homily for Mass – Deschatelets Residence

[Readings: Dan 3:13-20, 24, 49-50, 91-95;  Dan 3;  Jn 8:31-42]

 

Jesus says, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

The great untruth of all time is that there is no truth: or, to put it another way, there is only what I determine to be true.  Believing this leads to a form of slavery.

But as Our Lord says, the truth will make you free.  The saints, those who have found the truth and who live by that truth, are truly free.  Their freedom to live God’s will is one of the things that makes them so attractive… because we all long for that freedom.

The men who refused to bow down and worship the false gods of their age – as we heard in the First Reading – had found freedom in the truth.  They knew that only God is to be worshipped – and their lives are to be conformed only to the true God.  Standing in that freedom, God protects them in the face of the rage of the ungodly ruler, and even in the face of flames, their relationship with God makes “the inside of the furnace as though a moist wind were whistling through it” – despite the fact that it was seven times hotter than normal.

On Monday we recalled that Mary’s “yes” to the truth of God’s word to her allowed her to become the gate of light – through her the world’s true light would come to his own.

We are conscious that there are many false gods around us … many things call out to us and try to claim the attention that we should give to God.  Many things prevent us from continuing in Christ’s word … and so the truth can become obscured and we are not free like we should be.

 May the graces of the Mass we offer help us to draw nearer to He who is Truth, he who wants to set us free to live only for God.

Homily for Mass – Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa

Sunday 25 March 2012 – 7.30pm

[Readings for the Third Scrutiny of Christian Initiation: Ezekiel 37:12-14;  Ps 130;  Rom 8:8-11;  Jn 11:1-45]

Human beings have, deep within their hearts, a longing for eternity.  For people of faith, perhaps we can understand this more easily than others.  God is eternal – and we have come from God and will return to God – and so, if you like, eternity is part of our DNA.  As we look around us, and particularly as we see people whose belief in God has vanished or even was never there, we can still see the longing for eternity.  However, when taken out of the horizon of faith in God, the longing for eternity can be expressed in superficial, and sadly pathetic ways.

 The first reading tonight is one of the most well known passages from the prophet Ezekiel.  The people of Israel are dejected and hope-less as they exist in exile away from their homeland.  Some have died and are buried in their graves.  The Lord makes the amazing promise that he will raise them from their graves and make them alive with his spirit, and bring them “back to the land of Israel.”  The apparent hopelessness of dying and being buried in alien soil is overcome.  Even death will not be a barrier to prevent the homecoming – the return to the homeland of Israel.

 If we think of eternity, we can think of it as a homecoming.  The longing for eternity is a longing to be at home:  at home with ourselves, at home with those we love, and ultimately at home with the Lord, our creator.  As we consider this eternal homecoming, we realize that alienation is in fact something that is very present in our earthly life.  Due to our fallen state, sin causes us to be alienated from one another, alienated from God, and really, alienated even from our true selves.  We all know the reality of this alienation in our hearts.  Perhaps we often smooth it over with rationalizations, or medicate the pain of the alienation in one way or another, but we know that in all sorts of different ways, we are not at home with each other, with ourselves, or with the Lord.

 The most vivid experience of this alienation is death.  It’s almost impossible to ignore the pain caused by the death of those we love.  We see this played out in tonight’s Gospel.  After speaking with Mary about the death of her brother and Jesus’ close friend, Lazarus, Saint John tells us that “Jesus was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved,” that he “began to weep.”  This reaction of Jesus is something that has provoked much reflection.  Why did he react so strongly?  He knew what he was about to do.  He had declared that Lazarus’ illness “does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory” and when setting out to go to Bethany he tells his disciples, referring explicitly to Lazarus’ death, that he was “going there to awaken him.”  Some suggest that “Jesus’ strong feelings and tears may be his reaction to the unbelief of those who surrounded him.”  Others suggest that his “strong feelings and tears […] may equally constitute Jesus’ acknowledgement of the burden of pain that death inflicts on human life” (Archbishop Terrence Prendergast SJ, Living God’s Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year A, Toronto, Novalis, 2010, p. 70).

 The Good News that the Word of God holds out for us today is that Jesus has power over the alienation caused by sin and death.  Saint Paul says to the Romans, “If the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you” (Second Reading).  There is ultimately the physical death that God will raise us from, but God will also raise us from the death of sin: “if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Second Reading).  With the spirit of Christ in us, God can overcome the alienation we experience in this life.  The power of God working in us can bring us home to each other, to our true selves – and ultimately, God brings us home to himself.

 Those who are preparing for baptism at Easter are about to become sharers in this new life that we have and proclaim.  With baptism, all their sins will be washed away.  The Holy Spirit will fill their hearts especially as they are confirmed.  As they are admitted to Eucharistic communion, they will be brought ‘home’ to the family table of God’s sons and daughters.  After their initiation they will be able to celebrate that union with God’s family at every Mass.  They will also be able to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance to restore their baptismal dignity should it be tarnished by sin.

 Friends, let us pray in a special way for those preparing for baptism.  As we journey with them and consider what the Lord is accomplishing in them, let us realize that the Lord desires to continue this work in us too.  Let us bring to him those situations of pain from our own lives – the alienation caused by sin and death – and let us open ourselves to the new life that Christ came to bring us, for he is “the resurrection and the life.  [and] [w]hoever believes in [him], even though they die, will live …!”

Homily for Mass – Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa

Saturday 17 March 2012 – 4.15pm

[Readings: 2 Chr 36:14-17, 19-23;  Ps 137;  Eph 2:4-10;  Jn 3:14-21]

 

If you follow Mass using a Missal you’ll see that the first word of today’s Liturgy is “Rejoice” or in Latin: “Laetare.”  From that invitation, this fourth Sunday of Lent takes the name Laetare Sunday.  The Entrance Antiphon of Mass quotes the prophet Isaiah: Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.  Be joyful, all who were in mourning;  exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.

 The Church invites us to rejoice in the middle of our penitential season of Lent, at the half-way point on our journey to the celebration of Easter.

 The word of God today gives us reasons for this rejoicing.  The Second Book of Chronicles says that despite the fact that God’s people, including the leading priests, “were exceedingly unfaithful,” God “persistently sent his messengers to them, because he had compassion on his people.”  This persistent compassion of God reached its fullness when he no longer sent just any messenger, but His only Son.  Saint Paul, writing to the Ephesians, calls to mind that God – who is rich in mercy – made us alive together with Christ, showing this great love for us “even when we were dead through our trespasses.”  God does not wait for His people to be perfect before coming to them, in fact the opposite is true.  God comes to us, seeking us out, precisely because we are in such need of His mercy.

 Jesus himself expresses this love of God, as recorded in the Gospel, when he says that “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  Pope Benedict reflected on the theme of eternal life in his homily for Holy Thursday of 2010.  He said, “When Jesus speaks about eternal life, he is referring to real and true life, a life worthy of being lived.  He is not simply speaking about life after death.  He is talking about authentic life, a life fully alive and thus not subject to death, yet one which can already – and indeed must – begin in this world.  Only if we learn even now how to live authentically, if we learn how to live the life which death cannot take away, does the promise of eternity become meaningful” (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20100401_coena-domini_en.html).

 God’s persistent compassion, his continual reaching out to draw his people back to him, is not just about what happens when we die.  It’s about beginning to live a life worth living here and now.

 Our penitential practices of Lent, including our prayer, our fasting, our almsgiving, our works of mercy, our concern for our brothers and sisters in their physical, spiritual and moral needs – all of the things we do in Lent are ways that we try to re-orient our lives, so that we may begin living this “eternal life” – this “authentic life” – that Jesus came to bring us once and for all.

 Some central aspects of this life worth living are that Jesus wants to save and free us from our sins.  This is something that we become quite conscious of during Lent.  Many people I speak to agree that if you take Lent even somewhat seriously, it becomes quite difficult, because you come face to face with the reality of sin in your life:  the stubborn reality of sin, that binds and enslaves us.  Jesus saves us from our sin!  He provides a way out of sin and into freedom.  And this then points to a second aspect of the “eternal” life that we are called to start living in this world.

 God wants to transform our lives here and now by the power of his grace.  When we acknowledge God’s presence in our lives, and realize our dependence on God’s grace, then God can completely change the way we experience reality.

 One good example of this is Saint Patrick who is honoured throughout the Church today.  He was carried off from Britain, his homeland, at the age of sixteen in a pirate raid and sold as a slave in Ireland.  As a slave, he was made a swineherd, living in solitude on a mountain.  Cardinal Sean Brady, in his message for today’s remembrance of St Patrick, says that Patrick “successfully turned the adversity of six years of slavery into an opportunity to grow in his knowledge and love of the God who, in Patrick’s words, ‘protected and comforted me as a father would his son’” (Cardinal Brady, 16 March 2012, http://www.zenit.org/article-34472?l=english).  After Patrick had escaped slavery and returned to his homeland, his love of God impelled him to want to return to Ireland – once a place of captivity for him – to return there so that he could evangelize and convert people to Jesus Christ.  God’s grace completely transformed the way Patrick experienced life: even the challenge of being sold as a slave and carted off to a foreign land.  The invitation held out to us in Lent is to open ourselves more to the love of God, so that God – working in us – can transform our lives by his grace.

 On this Sunday of rejoicing, may the joy of the Gospel message touch our hearts … the message that God’s compassion persistently reaches out to us, even when (or particularly when) we’re in a sinful and wretched state.  God loves us so much that he has sent his Son to us, not to condemn us, but to save us and to bring us back to God.

 Let us ask our Blessed Mother for light, guidance and protection, so that we will not ‘forget Jerusalem’ (Ps 137), or prefer darkness to the light.  United with Mary, we can know the truth and truly be “God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it” (Eph 2:10). (http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerus/index.html [Email service])

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Homily for Mass – Deschatelets Residence

Monday 12 March 2012 – 7.30am

[Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-15;  Ps 42;  Lk 4:24-30]

 

The First Reading today is full of suspicion and prejudice.  When Naaman arrives with a letter from the King of Aram, the King of Israel thinks a quarrel is being picked with him.  When Naaman comes to Elisha’s house and the prophet doesn’t meet with him personally, he flies into a rage because this is not the sort of treatment he’d been expecting.  He throws in a little racial prejudice when he asserts that surely the rivers of Damascus are better than all the waters of Israel?

 Naaman’s reaction to the prophet Elisha reminds me of a story from the life of the newly canonized Canadian Saint, Brother Andre, known as a powerful intercessor for the sick.  A woman who couldn’t walk was carried in to see Brother Andre one day as he received people.  He said a few words to her and sent her on her way.  She was fairly grieved that he’d dismissed her so soon, and she got up and stormed out of the room.  It was only once she was outside that she realized she’d walked out of the room, and hadn’t been carried.

 In the Gospel Jesus speaks to the people of Nazareth of the prejudice that doesn’t accept a prophet in the prophet’s hometown.  Jesus didn’t need any proof of the truth of what he’d said, but he sure got a good example when his fellow citizens of Nazareth display their prejudice of local prophets and also fly into a rage and try to hurl him off a cliff.

 We all know how easy it is to succumb to suspicion: we suspect the motives of those around us.  Why did he do that?  Why did she say that?  We presume all too readily to know the answers.  Prejudice is never too far away either.  We develop an opinion of another person, and then everything they do or say is judged – in our mind – based on our prejudice.

 Perhaps one invitation of the Lenten season is to try to set aside some of our own suspicions and prejudices;  to try to develop a stance that is more open to the action of the Holy Spirit through those around us;  a stance that is open to the suggestions of those who formerly we judged incapable of good suggestions;  a stance that isn’t so quick to think that someone has ill-will towards us;  a stance that is open to the fact that God works in the ways God chooses to work, and not in the ways that we’ve decided God will work;  a stance that is more open to accepting that the Spirit is trying to prompt us in what we consider to be unlikely ways and in unlikely people.

 May the Lord help us this Lent to become more open, more accepting, of the many and unexpected ways that God wishes to reach out to us each day.

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Casting out the money changers by Giotto, 14th century.

Homily for Mass – Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa

Saturday 10 March 2012 – 4.15pm

[Ex 20:1-17;  Ps 19;  1 Cor 1:18, 22-25;  Jn 2:13-25]

When we first look at the scene of Jesus cleansing the Temple, we can understand his righteous anger.  Things were being done in the Temple that shouldn’t be done: a place for prayer had become a place for buying and selling, a place for making a profit.  The Father’s house had become a marketplace.

 The action of Jesus has a deeper significance also.  His dramatic gesture is also declaring that the time has come for a new kind of worship.  The worship that necessitated the sale of animals for the various offerings that were made in the Temple – that kind of worship was coming to an end.  It was to be replaced by worship that is truly worthy of God … a worship based in the person of Jesus himself.  A worship centered on his body which is the new temple.  All that is not worthy of this new worship had to be removed.

 Obviously, that age of temple sacrifices is over.  There are no sheep, cattle and doves being sold at the back of the cathedral!  We participate in the worship of God through, with and in Jesus.  He is the lamb of sacrifice.  Our worship is centred on him.  We, his living body, join with him as he offers the sacrifice of his life to the Father.  We are caught up in that offering such that we ourselves are lifted up to the Father by Christ in his offering.  The temple of his body, which was destroyed and raised again after three days – that body he continues to give to us as our spiritual food.

 But as we reflect on the Gospel, we’re prompted to ask ourselves: is our worship worthy?  Are we coming to God in the way that Jesus wants.  We may not have turned the Church into a marketplace, but at the same time, is the “temple of our heart” filled with things that shouldn’t be there? -  things that are unbecoming of a disciple of Jesus?

 If we need any reminder of things that are unbecoming in the “temple of our heart” – things that are unworthy as people called to worship God in spirit and truth in the manner Jesus has given us – our first reading – the Ten Commandments – gives us plenty to reflect on.  Let’s just recap their contents.

 The text begins by calling to mind what God has done for his people: freeing them from slavery.  The law, therefore, is based on the relationship that God has established with his people:  the law flows from this relationship.  So God is first: nothing is to be put in the place – in our lives – that should be occupied by God.  His Name is to be kept holy, and because of the relationship we have with Him, one day in the week is to be kept as a day especially dedicated to Him: the Lord’s Day.  The Christian Church has made the day of Christ’s resurrection the Lord’s Day.  Our Lord’s Day worship at Mass helps to fulfill the obligation God has given us to make one day of every week specially dedicated to Him.

 Flowing from our relationship with God, then, is our relationship with others.  First, we are enjoined to honour our parents.  Then three commandments that “tersely forbid murder, adultery and theft.”  And then three commandments giving further instructions about our relationships with “our neighbour”:  we are not to “connive or deprive another of his or her reputation, spouse or any possession that is rightfully theirs” ” (Archbishop Terrence Prendergast SJ, Living God’s Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year B, Toronto, Novalis, 2011, p. 70).

 The Ten Commandments have profoundly shaped the Jewish faith, and have been brought into the Christian tradition.  Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfil it (Mt 5:17).  Moreover, Jesus has in fact “upped the ante” with the commandments, by saying that being angry with another has an equivalence to murder, and that looking lustfully at another is the same as committing adultery (Mt 5:20-48).  He takes the commandments and enjoins on his disciples an even higher level of observance.  Not only are the commandments NOT abolished, but they are to be observed to a deeper degree by Jesus’ followers.

 We profitably examine our lives against the measure of the Ten Commandments and the words and actions of Jesus.  And to the extent that there is – in the “temple of our hearts” – anything that is alien, Jesus wants to drive those things out.  He wishes to cleanse our hearts of those things so that we can come to God freely and wholeheartedly, and experience that communion with the Father that Jesus himself enjoys.

 As we prepare for Easter, Jesus speaks the call of conversion to us through his Church.  Now is the favourable time to look at our lives and to be honest about those things in our lives that we know shouldn’t be there.  Our Saviour wants to cleanse us of those things – and he’s waiting to do that most especially through the Sacrament of Penance.  As he restored order to the Temple of Jerusalem and prepared for the worship belonging to his kingdom, Jesus desires to restore order to our lives and to prepare us to more fully unite with His Father in the Holy Spirit.  When you come to God he will pour clean water upon you and cleanse you from all your impurities, and [He] will give you a new spirit (Entrance antiphon).

 May the Lord give us courage, and help us to respond to his call to conversion.  May the Blessed Virgin, refuge of sinners and health of the sick, intercede for us.

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From March 14-19, 2012, there will be a Eucharistic Mission in Brisbane.  Perhaps this could be something extra to take advantage of during Lent?  The following information is from the flyer for the event:

“Fr Hugh Thomas CssR. is a missionary member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He has preached missions in Australia and overseas for many decades. In 2009 he preached a mission at Holy Spirit, Bray Park, prior to us beginning Perpetual Adoration, Villa Maria. Fr. Hugh as a missionary spent over 22 years in the Philippines. During that time he had a roving mission going from village to village preaching, administering the sacraments and training lay leaders. He has just completed 12 years in Western Australia, where he conducted many retreats and parish missions. For the last 7 years he has spent a couple of months each year in Indonesia and Singapore giving retreats to priests and promoting adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. With Fr.Doug Harris, a diocesan priest of Perth, he has helped establish 30 chapels of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in different islands of Indonesia. Fr. Hugh has recently been transferred by his congregation from Perth to Sydney. He has the wisdom and maturity of a seasoned missioner who has heard it all and has helped many who have come to him as a representative of Jesus Christ. We are fortunate to have him in Brisbane for a week to help us grow closer to Jesus truly present in the most Holy Eucharist.”

UPDATE 16 MARCH 2012: See the updated flyer here: Updated Retreat Program

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Histories of St. Francesca Romana by Antoniazzo Romano

It seems to me that Saint John of God, who was remembered yesterday, and Saint Frances of Rome, whose feast is celebrated today (9 March), are particularly apt saints for Lent.

A few challenging words from the life of Saint Frances of Rome, from the Office of Readings:

“That same steadfastness enabled her to endure the evil-tongued detractors who spoke ill of her way of life.  Never did she show the slightest antipathy for those whom she knew spoke evil of her and of what she did.  Instead, she repaid evil with good and prayed unceasingly to God for them.

“[...] people came to her from everywhere, as to a safe place of refuge.  No one went away without being comforted even though she readily reproved sin and fearlessly castigated what was evil and displeasing to God.”

Lazarus and Dives, illumination from the Codex Aureus of Echternach

Homily for Mass – Deschatelets Residence

Thursday 8 March 2012 – 7.30am

[Readings: Jer 17:5-10;  Ps 1;  Lk 16:19-31]

The biography of St John of God who is honoured in the Church today states that he got to a point in his life where he was wracked with guilt over his wasted life.  He had been a soldier of fortune, an overseer of slaves, a shepherd, a crusader, a bodyguard and a peddler.  With the help of John of Avila he found new purpose in life and dedicated himself to the care of the sick and the poor – gathering companions who shared in the work.

 On his feast day its most appropriate to hear the Gospel of Dives and Lazarus.  Thanks be to God, Saint John of God came to a moment of conversion, and saw that he needed to change his life … a moment that the rich man of the Gospel never reached.  He remained indifferent to the sufferings of the poor right under his nose.  For this indifference, he ended up in the flames of Hades, in torment.

 This season of Lent is a time when the grace of God calls us to conversion.  Pope Benedict has said that Lent is “a time when it is necessary to decide to accept one’s responsibilities without further delay.  It is a time for mature decisions” (http://www.zenit.org/article-34347?l=english).  In his Message for this Lent, the Holy Father also reflects at length on the theme of being concerned for each other, and desiring what is good for each other “from every point of view: physical, moral and spiritual.”  (http://www.zenit.org/article-34255?l=english).  He says that “[t]he time granted us in this life is precious for discerning and performing good works in the love of God.”

 We are invited to be like the tree planted by water.  We are to set our roots deeply in the love of God, and to not cease bearing fruit.  We are called not to be indifferent to the needs of our neighbour … we are to respond to their physical, moral and spiritual needs.

 May our Lenten disciplines help us to respond to these calls to us.

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Homily for Mass, Deschatelets Residence

6 March 2012, 7.30am

[Readings: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20, 27-28, 31;  Ps 50;  Mt 23:1-12]

 

As baptized people, and certainly as priests and religious, it’s a great privilege to be representatives of Christ – to speak his message in the world, to act in his name.

 However, today’s Gospel reminds us that we often don’t practice what we preach.  Furthermore, we sometimes do the right things, but with conflicted motives.  Sometimes our right actions are merely a mask.  To the extent that these things are true in us, we will feel an inner dis-ease and lack of peace.  And this inner conflict will result in us being less effective in our ministry.

 Lent is a privileged time, not to be discouraged by these realities, but to face them honestly.  We must acknowledge and confess our sins before the Lord, urged on by the words of the prophet Isaiah, for though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow;  though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

 We’re invited to focus anew on Christ, in whom there was no dichotomy between who he was, what he said, and what he did.  Let us draw closer to Christ in these days of Lent, and may he help us to overcome the contradictions in our lives.

 [See: http://csctr.net/tuesday-06-march-2012-2nd-week-of-lent]

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Transfiguration by Alexandr Ivanov, 1824

Homily for Mass, Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa

Saturday 3 March 2012, 4.15pm, and Sunday 4 March 2012, 7.30pm

[Gen 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18;  Ps 116;  Rom 8:31-35, 37;  Mk 9:2-10]

As we consider the remarkable story of Abraham and Isaac, we have to just note and set aside (somewhat) our automatic abhorrence at the thought of human sacrifice, and child-sacrifice no less.  With that caveat, we’re left with a story with a profound lesson.

 If we recall that Isaac had been promised to Sarah and Abraham by the Lord, and moreover, it was to be through Isaac that Abraham would “become the father of many nations” (Gen 17:4, 21)  And then God asks the unthinkable of Abraham: sacrifice Isaac.  Such a request appears to undo the promise, to destroy it, to render it useless.  And yet Abraham obeys.  He goes against the inclinations of his heart, and even right reason.  He somehow trusts that God who has made a promise will be faithful to it, even though he can’t possibly understand how.  Following Abraham’s obedience, faith, and trust, God provides the ram for the sacrifice in place of Isaac.  And there is a crucial line in the story which, for some reason was not included in the lectionary, but it says: Abraham called this place ‘The Lord provides,’ and hence the saying today: ‘On the mountain the Lord provides’ (Gen 22: 14).

 If we think about it, I believe that most often we sin because we don’t trust that God will provide what we need.  We disobey God’s commandments because at some level we feel we won’t be fully satisfied, we won’t be happy.  We think that if we follow God’s law as has been revealed to us, we’re going to miss out.  We don’t trust or fully believe that God not only has our best interests at heart, but that God will give us what we need.

 In the Gospel today we have story of the transfiguration.  This Gospel of the Second Sunday of Lent pairs nicely with the Gospel of the temptations of Jesus last Sunday.  We reflected last week that Jesus underwent the temptations for our benefit: to show us that when we undergo temptation, he has been there before us.  He is with us in the midst of it;  he knows our struggle.  In this Sunday’s Gospel, the event of the transfiguration is again for the benefit of those chosen disciples who witnessed it.  Not only does Jesus share our temptations, but he shares his glory with us.  The transfiguration is a fore-showing of the resurrection.

 Just prior to the transfiguration of Jesus, he had been teaching his disciples that he was to suffer and die.  And we know that his disciples struggled to comprehend this.  Even on the mountain of transfiguration, Peter shows that he doesn’t really understand what’s going on.  He opens his mouth and says something silly about making three tents.  And yet, even in their lack of understanding, God gives them a glimpse of Jesus’ resurrection;  a glimpse of glory to help them see beyond the suffering and death that Jesus would face.  As one commentator says, “One might conclude that the ongoing failures of Jesus’ disciples were themselves experiences of the cross from which Jesus constantly rescued them, giving them hope” (Archbishop Terrence Prendergast SJ, Living God’s Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year B, Toronto, Novalis, 2011, p. 67).  The transfiguration was meant to give the disciples hope that God would provide for them, He would look after them, even through suffering and death.

 If we think again of Isaac, carrying the wood for the sacrifice;  of him being bound and placed on the wood on the altar … we see in him an image of Jesus, who carried the wood of his cross, and who was nailed to the wood of the cross, the altar upon which he offered his life for us.  Isaac was spared: God provided a ram for the sacrifice.  But God didn’t spare his own Son.  God loves us so much, that he was prepared for his only begotten Son to be the lamb of sacrifice.  That’s the length that God has gone to, to bring us back to Him.  Jesus did not shrink from any of the consequences of becoming human – even to accepting death.  God has done all this for us.  And so that leads St Paul to ask the question which we heard in the second reading:  He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?

 Nothing, therefore, can separate us from the love of God.  God will provide everything we need.  Our life’s struggle is to come to truly believe that.  In this penitential season of Lent when we are invited to consider our weakness and sinfulness, we should ask ourselves: in what ways do my sins show that I don’t trust and believe that God will provide all that I need?

 When we believe that God will provide, when we trust Him, then we will obey His will and His commandments.

 I conclude with words of meditation from Blessed Charles de Foucauld:

O Abraham, may you blessed!  Isaac, who so meekly allowed yourself to be bound to the altar, may you be blessed!

My God, who make such virtues spring from men, may you blessed from age to age for ever!

Love means obeying you, obeying you with this promptness and this faith, in ways that rend the heart and turn the mind upside down… love is immediate, absolute sacrifice to your will and glory of what is most dear…

 It is what you did, in a wonderful way, O Abraham, getting up at once in the night to go to sacrifice your son. It is what you will do, O Son of God, coming from heaven to earth to live that life and die that death! …

My Lord and my God, so may it be with me also according to your most holy will.

[http://www.ordopraedicatorum.org/2012/02/29/preachers-sketchbook-second-sunday-of-lent/]

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