YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY OF LENT
THEME: LET’S GO TO THE MOUNTAIN
BY: Fr. Johnbosco Obika
HOMILY: 📖1st: Gen. 22:1-2, 9A, 10-13, 15-18
📖2nd:Reading 2 Rom. 8:31B-34
📖Gospel: Mk. 9:2-10
In this second Sunday of Lent God is inviting us to the mountain. Biblically, mountains are places of , preparation, meditation, change, encounter with God and consequently spiritual advancement. In Ex. 31:18, after forty days of preparation the tablets of the law were given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. In 1Kg. 19:9-18, on Mount Horeb Elijah encountered God. Before starting his public ministry, Jesus went to the mountain to pray and was fortified to face the devil’s temptation. The three readings of today talk about three mountains that are very important to every child of God: Mount of Moriah as we see in the first reading, the mount of Calvary alluded by St. Paul in the second reading and the mount of Tabor where the transfiguration of Jesus took place according to the gospel reading.
The three mountains accordingly represent different stages of our journey as Christians. Mount Moriah is a place of test. God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son and he was proven to be a man of faith. There is big difference between temptation and test. Last Sunday the devil tempted Jesus, this Sunday God tests Abraham. The devil tempts us to destroy but God tests us to build us. Only those who are tested are trusted and rewarded by God.
The test goes with pain and uncomfortable circumstances of which Calvary reminds us. St. Paul refers to the suffering of Jesus on the Calvary mountain in the second reading when he says “He (God) did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all…” So if you are going through the Calvary stage of Christian life remember that it does not end there. There is another mountain, Tabor.
Mount Tabor is a mount of glory. Jesus manifests the glory of his resurrection. It represents the goal of our life which is the glory of heaven. Through his transfiguration Jesus shows us the glimpse of what is lying in wait for us. So when you stand on the plains of Moriah, do not be discouraged by the scourges of Calvary and look beyond to see the glory of Tabor.
So it was on this Tabor that Jesus took Peter, James and John (his closest apostles) to pray. While he was praying, he was transfigured. The word transfiguration in Greek is “metamorphosi,” meaning, “to change into another form”. He change to the form of glory prefiguring the resurrected body. His face was dazzling and his garment whiter than anything we can think of. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared. These men were the two pillars of the Old Testament. Moses on the one hand was the great lawgiver. Elijah on the other hand was the great prophet. Christ, making them three, is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Thus, the history of Israel was complete on the mountain. Moses and Elijah were probably discussing Christ’s passion with him which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem and Jesus was to lead the “new Israel” in the “new exodus” out the slavery of sin. This event took place after the prediction of the Passion and death at Caesarea Philippi. After the prediction by Jesus that he was to suffer in the hands of the rulers, the disciples were dismayed and disenchanted for it was inconceivable that the Messiah would suffer. There was an air of doubt among the disciples concerning if Jesus was truly the Messiah, and if he was truly on the right course. Jesus’ transfiguration in the presence of the three apostles was to make them understand that the suffering of the Messiah is not the end of the road for him but a good means to a glorious end.
The gospel passage also speaks of the cloud that completely covered Jesus and His disciples. This cloud fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10, 19:9, 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Maccabees 2:8). Forming of clouds on the mountain is common. But this one was very spectacular. In the Old Testament, the cloud depicts the presence and glory of God. In Exodus 13:21ff, a pillar of cloud led the children of Israel through the wilderness. In Exodus 34:5, God descended to give Moses the Law in a pillar of cloud. The cloud was present at the dedication of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34ff). Same cloud filled the whole place at the dedication of the temple built by Solomon (1 Kings 8:10ff; 2 Chron. 5:13ff; 7:2). And God spoke from the cloud saying “this is my Son, the chosen One. Listen to him.” (Lk 9:35).
God calls on all of us to open our ears and listen to the voice of Christ and be saved. There is an old Igbo adage that says “nka di na nti” which translates literally “there is longevity (old age) in the ears.” Applying this to the context of today’s first and gospel readings we see that salvation comes from listening (to the voice of Christ) and heeding his instructions. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Rom 10:17). Abraham listened and obeyed the word of God and went to Moriah. Samuel listened to the voice of God calling and said “speak lord your servant is listening”. Today many voices are calling from all sides. Which do we listen to?
In this second Sunday of lent, let us obey God like Abraham and move to Mount Moriah and sacrifice that bad habit of sin that we hold so dear. Moriah is a place to let go. There is no place that can be fittingly likened to this mountain than the confessional. In the first reading, Abraham was faced with a big challenge of sacrificing his only son. Abraham and Sarah his wife were barren for years. Towards the sunset of there life they were blessed with a son. And now God wants this son to be sacrificed. It was a great test of faith for him to let go of his most precious possession. However, he trusted, he obeyed to sacrifice his son and he was blessed by God with children uncountable. It is only when we let go that we can let in. Only when we give up bad habits that we can take up a new life. Let go of sin and let in God’s grace.
Without repentance Lent is a meaningless spiritual journey. All our observances (prayer, abstinence and almsgiving) should bring us to our knees to the confessional where Jesus speaks forgiveness to our souls. Let us obey the Father who spoke from the cloud and heed the voice of Jesus calling us to repentance.
GOD BLESS YOUR EFFORTS. HAPPY SUNDAY