Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent, Year A
By: Fr. Gerald Musa
HOMILY: Do you remember this word? We rarely use the word, and we probably have not used the term since we completed biology class. Metamorphosis is the biological change that some animals pass through to become adults. Metamorphosis perfectly describes change and transformation as a process. There is a four-step process that changes the caterpillar into a butterfly:
1. An adult butterfly lays egg on a leaf
2. The egg hatches into a caterpillar
3. The caterpillar forms the chrysalis or pupa
4. Finally the caterpillar matures into a butterfly.
We all undergo change in our lives: change of status; change of work; change of country, etc. Heraclitus the Greek philosopher says, “The only thing that is constant is change.” God called Abraham to change location when he said: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). This change of location must have been a challenge for Abraham. It is not easy to leave extended family, folks and friends and travel to a distant and unknown land.
People migrate for different reasons. Some move to other places for humanitarian reasons and others for economic reasons. Migration has become a part of life and there are millions of people who have settled in places far away from their homelands and have become Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) and citizens in other lands. It is much easier for us to choose where we want to go and at a time when we want to go than to be told where to go at a time when we are fully settled in a place. We can understand the situation of Abraham who did not leave his land on his own but was instructed about where and when to go.
Change is not only about migration. Second letter to Timothy gives us another dimension of change when it speaks of the ultimate change that the human person undergoes from mortality to immortality (2 Tim 1:10). According to Paul, this happens because Jesus “destroyed death and brought life and immortality through the gospel.” Thus the death and resurrection of Jesus reminds us of the metamorphosis that takes place between death and resurrection. The body, which is sown in decomposition, is raised to an imperishable body and the natural body becomes a spiritual body
Jesus demonstrated the nature of this change when he took his disciples to Mount Tabor and there they saw a great change in the appearance of Jesus: “His face shone like the sun.” This incidence reminds us of Moses when he encountered Yahweh on Mount Sinai and how his face became radiant (Exodus 34:29). Many passages in the Gospel of Matthew show a strong link between Old Testament and New Testament. Matthew presents Jesus as the New Moses just as Paul presents Jesus as the new Adam (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45).
The transfiguration of Jesus was very timely. It happened at a time when he was preparing to change location. It was time for him to go to Jerusalem to suffer betrayal and undergo trial. The transfiguration came at a time when his earthly ministry was coming to an end. He was preparing the minds of his disciples towards the change that was about to happen. The transfiguration was a glimpse of how the glorious body looks like after resurrection.
Change occurs not only after death. While we are living, our life and way of thinking continue to undergo change. The Jesuit priest and writer Anthony De Mello recalls the story of a mystic called Sufi Bayazid who says this about himself:
“I was a revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was: ‘Lord, give me the energy to change the world.’
‘As I approached middle age and realized that half my life was gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who came in contact with me. Just my family and friends, and I shall be satisfied.’
‘Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is, ‘Lord, give me the grace to change myself.’ If I had prayed for this right from the start I should not have wasted my life.’
There was some kind of metamorphosis in the pattern of thinking of Sufi Bayazid. His perspective on prayer was changing as he was growing. Our life and thoughts are never stagnant. We keep growing, we keep changing, we change methods, we change gear, we change places, we change names, we change direction, we change levels, and we change appearance. No wonder, Winston Churchill says “to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Spiritual metamorphosis describes the gradual process of change in our lives: a change that brings us closer to the essence of life; a change that gradually illuminates the soul. This change occurs through the struggles and trials of life. We undergo several changes in life and these changes can also be necessary challenges that move us forward.
Sunday of Lent, Year A/ Genesis 12:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9