Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent Year C
Theme: The plan of God for humanity
By: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
Homily for Sunday March 13 2022
Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
On every second Sunday of Lent, like today, the liturgy of the word invites us to focus on the transfiguration of the Lord. Today’s liturgy presents us with the plan of God for humanity – the forming of His people into a family chosen to share in the glory of God. The meditation on the transfiguration during lent becomes for us a prediction of what lies at the end of Lent – the glory of the resurrection of the Lord. The transfiguration of Jesus is a small glimpse of the destination of the Lenten journey, Christ’s risen glory. It reminds us that the ‘Lenten penance’ will give way to the ‘Easter joy.’
The call to share in the glory of God is a free gift from God’s benevolence. Nevertheless, to be partakers of this free gift calls for a “response in faith.” This response in faith is what the first reading presents to us. Abraham in faith believed the promise made to him by God and we are told that it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Through Abraham’s faith God entered into a covenant with His people. But this covenant was broken by the people’s unfaithfulness. So the people had to await the coming of the messiah to come and amend the broken covenant and make it NEW! So the gospel reading of today prefigures Jesus as the one to make the covenant NEW and TRUE.
Christ’s transfiguration was a specimen of that glory to come (the people of God coming to share in the very life and glory of God). But we may be wondering, “What are the significances of the transfiguration for us at lent?”
(1) At the transfiguration, Jesus gave a glimpse of his glory to his disciple as a way of encouraging them to accept the way of the cross (whatever suffering that may come); bearing in mind that the event of the transfiguration took place shortly after the prediction of his suffering to come in Jerusalem (which Peter firmly objected and was consequently rebuked by Jesus).
(2) Another significance of the event of the transfiguration is what Moses and Elijah represent; the law and the prophets, respectively. Jesus is the fulfillment of both the law and the prophets. Hence, God spoke from above, “behold my beloved son with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” “Listen to Him?!” Had the apostles not been listening to Jesus for the past two years plus? They heard his beautiful sermons, the parables he taught, the discourses he would give in the temple, and so many other things he taught them along the way. It would seem at first glance to be a superfluous imperative from God. But it wasn’t, because God the Father knew that they had only been selectively listening, and they had been stone deaf to what Jesus had been saying to them about his coming crucifixion and death. When Jesus first announced, after Peter had confessed him to be the Messiah, that he would be handed over to the scribes and Pharisees, scourged and crucified and on the third day raised, Peter said that that would never happen to him. They didn’t want to hear it.
(3) Another significance of the transfiguration is the intrinsic connection between Mt. Tabor and Mt. Calvary, between the glory of the Transfiguration and the glorification of Christ on the throne of the Cross.
This connection is clear in the conversation between Jesus and the two great heroes of the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah are both precursors of Lent. Elijah had lived a Lent of 40 days crossing the desert to the mountain of God, Horeb, being hunted by King Ahab. Moses had spent 40 days in prayer at the top of Mt. Sinai and then 40 years with the Jews in the desert. They came specifically to speak with Jesus not about the glory that was to come, not about Heaven, but about the culmination of the Lenten Season: Jesus’ suffering, Cross and death. We see this in the word St. Luke uses in his account of the Transfiguration: they spoke about the “exodus” that Jesus was to accomplish in Jerusalem. This exodus meant the passage Jesus would make from the slavery of death to the Promised Land of eternal life, just as Moses had lead the Israelites in the exodus from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel. God the Father wanted Peter, James and John — and all of us here — to see this scene, so that it would sustain our faith when suffering comes.
THE LESSONS FOR US:
(1) In our greatest glories on earth, let us keep in mind that earthly glories would pass away.
(2) More so, in our moments of suffering, we are to remember the crown of glory awaits those who faithfully endure their cross.
(3) Since we have been chosen as God’s people to come and experience His glory, we are called to respond to this invitation with faith like Abraham. Hence St. Paul in the second reading charges us to emulate those who are living the life of faith, and we are to be models for others too to emulate.
(4) Many of us too could want to be like the three disciples who wanted to remain on the mountain because of the glory they have seen. In the Bible, the mountain represents the place of nearness with God and the intimate encounter with Him. It is a place of prayer, where one enters the presence of the Lord. All of us are called to climb this “mountain” of prayer. “We need to go apart from the crowd, to climb the mountain into a place of silence, to find ourselves and perceive better the Lord’s voice. We do this in prayer. But we can’t stay there at the top of the mountain. We have to come down and that is not just a bare necessity but the coming down is something that our time with God moves us to do. The encounter with God in prayer urges us to come down once again from the mountain and return to the bottom, in the plain, where we encounter so many brothers and sisters weighed down by fatigue, sicknesses, injustices, ignorance, and material and spiritual poverty. To these brothers and sisters in difficulty, we are called to bring the fruits of the experience that we have had with God, sharing the graces received.
Finally, the event of the transfiguration is presented to us on this second Sunday of lent to encourage in our Lenten observances, because it reminds us of the glory of Easter.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*