Homily/Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Lent Year A
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Homily/Reflection for Sunday March 8 2020
Mt 17:1-9 (Transfiguration)
Message # 332: “My Heart is Bleeding”
1. The Marian Message
a) During the Transfiguration of the Lord, the voice of the Father was heard: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” This is precisely the reason why the Blessed Mother’s heart is bleeding with sorrow: people have turned a deaf ear to the voice of the Good Shepherd. And so the flock is scattered and become easy prey to Satan and his cohorts. They do not listen to Jesus anymore. And they do not listen also to the call of the Blessed Mother to conversion and repentance (letter f). Chastisement is sure to come upon this world, worse than that of the flood.
b) Even the Church falls victim to infidelity and apostasy. Many bishops and priests do not listen to Jesus and have lost the true faith (letter g). Worse still, atheism and Masonry have already entered the Church (read the whole section of letter h).
c) While the heavenly Father implores us: “Listen to Him”, people continue to ignore Jesus and His teachings. “Sin is being committed more and more; it is no longer acknowledged as evil; it is sought out; it is consciously willed; and it is no longer confessed” (letter i). As a result, people are led to perdition and eternal damnation. The Blessed Mother gives this summary in letter j: “This is the reason why my heart is bleeding: because of the obstinate disbelief and the hardness of your hearts.” Unfortunately, many people are not aware of what is about to happen: “you live in an obstinate unconsciousness of that which awaits you” (letter l).
2. The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading from the Book of Genesis is about the call of Abraham. This is one of the pivotal events in the history of salvation. Abraham is called the “father of all nations” – Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. It was through him that God formed His people and established a covenant with them.
b) The Psalm is a song that reminds the people of God’s mercy and providence. For a people who trust in God, they will certainly enjoy His loving protection at all times.
c) The second reading is from St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy. He exhorts the Christians through their bishop Timothy to “bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” He is implying, therefore, that following and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus entails lots of sacrifices, sufferings and hardships. He himself experienced all those. Yet despite everything, he obtained strength from God. This reading fittingly introduces the message of the Gospel. Following Jesus will eventually lead to the cross.
d) The Gospel is the account of the transfiguration of Jesus on Mt. Tabor. This event was a sort of an intermission on the road to Jerusalem. Jesus had his eyes focused on the holy city, fully aware that his forthcoming passion and death will take place there. He made this openly known to his disciples, and they were disheartened. So Jesus brought the three leading disciples – Peter, James and John – to the mountain. There, for a very brief moment, they experienced the glory of Jesus and the joy of heaven, and this was enough to give them encouragement and strength to face the supreme test of the cross.
3. Points for Reflection
a) The Transfiguration of Jesus is only in the eyes of the disciples. Nothing changed in Jesus. He is still true God and true Man. However, only His outward appearance as man is what the disciples were aware of. They were totally unaware of His divine nature and appearance. When Jesus was transfigured before their very eyes, it was the only time their eyes were opened to His divine nature. Nothing changed in Jesus. He simply allowed His disciples a quick glimpse of His divinity. But for them, it seemed like eternity, for, indeed, seeing Jesus in that state is already a foretaste of eternity. It was a very quick beatific vision for the three. They tasted the happiness of heaven, and Peter ecstatically exclaimed: “Lord, it is good that we are here! Let us erect three booths: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
b) There are important reasons for the Transfiguration of Jesus: 1) The appearance of Moses (representing the Law) and Elijah (representing the Prophets) is the confirmation that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. He is the Messiah being awaited ever since. 2) To reveal to His disciples that He is not just any ordinary human being; He is God Himself. The voice of the Father, which was clearly heard by the three disciples, was a proclamation of His divine nature: “This is my beloved Son”. 3) To prepare His disciples for the scandal of the cross. Before Jesus undergoes His passion, He showed to His disciples who He really is. This short divine experience and the knowledge that Jesus is God is enough to inspire and strengthen them in the most difficult moments of his passion and death on the cross.
c) The experience on the mountain was profoundly life-changing that the disciples were not willing to let go. So Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us erect three booths here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” It was a very quick experience of heaven, and they forgot they were still on earth. Something like this happens to us in our life. We have our own Tabor experience – our moments of joys and triumphs: wedding, birth of a child, passing the Board Exam, first job, successful business venture, buying your own house or new car, and many other such events. Like the disciples, we don’t want these events to end. But that is the sobering reality of our life in this world – nothing is permanent, and everything is fleeting. But these brief moments of “heaven” or “Tabor experience” are enough to sustain us when we also encounter our moments of “Calvary” in life. Through it all, whether it is “Tabor” or “Calvary”, Jesus is always with us. There is nothing to be worried about. And that is what truly matters in life: to be with Jesus and live with him. Whether we are in our moments of joy and success, or in a hospital bed suffering indescribable pain, we will still find immense joy if we are with Jesus. To be with God is what heaven is all about.
d) The Gospel on the Transfiguration of Jesus is not only meant to remind us of the divinity of Jesus. Rather it is meant also to direct our attention on ourselves, on our sublime dignity. In Genesis, it is said that we were “created in the image and likeness of God”. We have that original beauty and justice imprinted in our soul. Every human being is innately good. Yet we always give more emphasis on our being sinful, and are often resigned to our sinful nature. Usually we say: “At kung iyan man ay kasalanan sapagkat kami ay tao lamang.” This is partly true since we really are weak and sinful. But to continue in this state, never striving to grow simply because we are such, runs contrary to our own nature as God’s children and to the explicit wish of Jesus: “Be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.” We are supposed to be saints. We should be saints. In the Transfiguration, Jesus showed to His disciples who He really is: He is God! Hence, the challenge now for us: let us also show to the whole world who we really are. We are God’s children.
e) In St Matthew’s Gospel, God the Father speaks from heaven only twice – in the Transfiguration, and in the baptism of Jesus. Both times he says essentially the same thing – just to emphasize how important it is. He says that Jesus is his beloved Son and we should listen to him. Listening to Christ means getting to know him and following his lead. When parents instruct their children to listen, they want the kids both to hear and to heed what they are saying. God the Father does the same thing. Jesus Christ is God’s own Son, sent by the Father to be our guide to fulfillment, to the meaning and happiness we all long for. Christ alone is the answer, the secret to a life lived to the full. He is not just one great philosopher in history’s Hall of Fame. He is not just a wise teacher, like Confucius or Buddha. He is the fulfillment of the long history of salvation that God traced throughout the Old Testament, represented in the Transfiguration by the appearance of Moses and Elijah. He is God-made-man, whose glory is way beyond anything we can imagine. Despite this clear exhortation from the heavenly Father, many people still prefer to listen to the voice of egoism, materialism and moral permissiveness. As a result, we are reaping the bitter fruits of disobedience to God.
f) This Sunday’s first reading deals with the call of Abraham. He is our “father in faith” not just for Jews and Christians, but also for our Moslem brothers and sisters. To understand what it means to be a “son of Abraham” we have to know something about his call. God called Abraham out of Ur – a city in what today is southern Iraq. According to archeological investigations, Ur may have been the world’s largest city at the time of Abraham. It had a flourishing economy and advanced technology. But like many ancient civilizations, they practiced human sacrifice – including the sacrifice of small children.
One reason God called Abraham was to fight against this horrible practice. He did it in a paradoxical way. As a test of obedience, He ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac – but at the last moment sent an angel to stop him. From that point on the true Israelite would oppose child sacrifice. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, prophets such as Jeremiah denounced the practice of sacrificing children to Moloch. To be a son of Abraham meant to defend children against those who would sacrifice them.
Definitely this is similar to our situation now. Like Abraham we live in a prosperous society that prides itself on its technology. But, unfortunately, even though we have become more sophisticated, we still practice an abominable form of child sacrifice: abortion. In the US, twenty-two percent of pregnancies end up in the killing of the unborn. A New York City health department report released in January revealed a 41 percent abortion rate in the Big Apple, twice the national average. That’s a staggering average of 4 out of 10 babies killed! New York City is not only the financial capital, but also the murder capital of the world! The Philippines is not far behind.
Song: “Here I am, Lord”
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE BEC
1. Ano ang mga hadlang sa ating pakikinig at pagsunod kay Hesus?
2. Ano ang naiisip mo kung dumarating na ang mga pagsubok at kahirapan sa buhay?
3. May karanasan ka na ba na minsan iniwasan mo ang krus, at ito ay nagbunga ng mas malalang kalagayan sa iyo?