YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY OF LENT
TOPIC: OUR PERSONAL TRANSFIGURATION
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Lk 9:28b-36
Message # 329: “Climb the Mountain”
- The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother invites all of her children to join her in climbing up the mountain. It is “the mountain of salvation and of prayer, of purity and of holiness, of docility and of meekness, of humility, of littleness and of your ever more perfect charity” (letter a).
b) This is a call to our “personal transfiguration” that takes place by a) conforming our lives to that of Jesus, b) by filial abandonment to the love of the heavenly Father, and c) by docile obedience to the action of the Holy Spirit (letter b). Our goal will be towards our “complete transformation, in the glorious light of Christ”, who wants to manifest through us “in order to renew the whole world with the power of his merciful love.”
c) On this mountain of our personal transfiguration, the Blessed Mother will be with us, accompanying us by her “extraordinary presence and special action” (letter c). In other words, in our quest for conversion and holiness, the Blessed Mother will be our sure support, protection and guide.
d) On this mountain, she will also prepare us “for the painful moments of the cross and of martyrdom” (letter d). We are now living in the painful moments of the great tribulation, and “soon you will all be called to your most painful witnessing.” Following Jesus more closely is not a walk in the park. When we are converted to Him and are becoming more holy, we will also join Him, carrying our crosses, to His sacrifice in Calvary. This has to take place so that we will become “the rays of light which come forth from my Immaculate Heart… in order to cast light upon the dark moments through which you are already about to live.”
- The Sunday Readings
a) On this second Sunday of Lent, the readings tell us about the importance of prayer. It is the most effective way of imbibing all the graces that God wants to give us during this holy season.
b) The First Reading tells us that “The Lord God took Abram outside…” and had a conversation with him. That’s prayer.
c) The Psalm gives us an example of King David’s prayer in the face of danger, “Your presence, O Lord, I seek. Hide not your face from me…”
d) St Paul, in the Second Reading, reminds the Christians in Philippi that while most people occupy their minds “with earthy things… our citizenship is in heaven.” Our attention is on God – that’s prayer.
e) Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus leads his three closest disciples away from the hustle and bustle of life, up to the top of a high mountain, where he can be alone with them, and give them a lesson on prayer.
f) Prayer is our communication with God. We talk to God, and He listens. God talks to us, and we listen. Having this communication, we establish closer relationship with God. Whatever situation in life we find ourselves in, we will always feel the presence of God.
- Some Points for Reflection
a) Jesus invited the apostles Peter, James and John to go up with him the mountain. He wanted them to personally experience God’s presence in prayer. It is Jesus who invites us to prayer – he always takes the initiative; we only respond. That is why the best disposition for prayer is humility and openness to God. The greatest form of prayer is the Mass. It is Jesus who invites us. And when we say yes, we come to Mass and we begin with the Penitential Rite – we humble ourselves and ask forgiveness for our sins. There is no room for pride and arrogance in prayer, especially in the Mass.
b) “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.” The voice of the Father is a direct confirmation of the divinity of Jesus: he is the Only Begotten Son of God. Believing in him does not only mean professing our faith, but following his every word and command: “Listen to him”, the voice of the heavenly Father said. It is a categorical command – no if’s and but’s. If we really believe that Jesus is divine, the Son of God, we have to follow him all the way and without any reservation. This is the problem nowadays. People profess themselves to be Christians. But their lives are not in conformity with the teachings and examples of Jesus. Worse still, instead of following Jesus, they even question his teachings.
How many Catholics do we know who question the teaching on the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? How many Catholics directly violate the commandment of God by killing unborn babies in abortion or by divorcing their spouse or by living together without the sacrament of Matrimony, or by engaging in perverse and immoral behavior? During election time, how many Catholics effectively deny Christ by supporting and voting for candidates who promote abortion, divorce, and exhibit immoral and even anti-God and anti-Church behavior? Faith in Jesus is not just a matter of professing it; it has to be seen and lived in our daily lives. Otherwise, we give counter witness to the Gospel. This is what St. Paul clearly taught in the second reading: “For many conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.”
c) The season of Lent is a call to our own personal transfiguration. Oftentimes we look down on ourselves, always thinking we are good for nothing, hopeless cases. But that is not true, and it really is an insult to God Who created us in His image and likeness. What happens is that many of us are submerged in our sins, and we have stopped struggling to rise up again. We look at ourselves as dirty, and that is because we chose to remain dirty. The season of Lent gives us abundant graces to rise up once again, to cast aside the dirty cloak of sin, and follow Jesus with a stronger resolve to sin no more. St. Paul said: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.” We are not meant to remain sinful and weak; we are destined to a life of glory as God’s beloved children. St. Paul reminds us of this in the second reading: “Our citizenship is in heaven. Jesus Christ will change our lowly body to conform with his glorious body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.” Let us not, therefore, remain in sin, darkness and disgrace; it is time to live honorably as children of light, and the time is now. Let us be truly transfigured – let us show once and for all who we really are: God’s children and inheritors of heaven.
d) The experience of the apostles on the mountain made them extremely happy beyond words and convinced them once and for all of the divinity of Jesus. It was Jesus who wanted them to have this experience, and the purpose is very important: He was preparing them for the scandal of the cross. It was to give them the proper perspective, vision and strength to undergo the forthcoming passion and death of Jesus. Knowing that Jesus is God, the disciples are prepared to do anything for him, no matter what happens. This is also true to us. God gives us our own “mountain experience” – the times when we are happy and successful. These are the times when we are convinced that God is truly alive and loves us in a special way. When times of difficulties and severe trials come, we think of our “mountain experience”, and it gives us courage and inspiration to go on. Examples of this are those cancer patients. They pray hard, and God heals them. They praise and thank God, and are convinced of the power and love of God. Later on, the cancer comes back, but this time, they are already at peace and prepared to undergo the greatest trial of all, which is death. They have received the confirmation that God loves them and that He will give them eternal life and glory in His kingdom. So, they are not anymore afraid of death.
e) Prayer is losing its attraction and importance in the eyes of so many people nowadays. This is caused by the onslaught of unbridled materialism in our society. Anything that cannot be quantified in terms of money is of no importance. Hence, all spiritual realities – God, heaven, saints and angels, salvation – have no value in the eyes of any materialistic modern man. Lest we fall into the same trap, let us just try to point out the infinitely wonderful benefits of prayer.
f) First, prayer is communication with God. We do not see Him; we do not hear Him. But He continues to listen to us, and He speaks to us. Communication, after all, does not mean we should “physically” talk and hear the other person. A pregnant mother communicates with her baby still in her womb. Although the baby cannot physically talk and listen, he has his way of “talking” and “listening”, and the mother knows that very well. Ultimately, it is the heart that listens and understands. This is what happens in prayer. And definitely, it is our faith that tells us God is listening and talking to us. In many and varied mysterious ways, God communicates with us through prayer. And if we really love Him, prayer becomes an enjoyable experience, making us feel the presence of God. Just being aware of God’s presence is already a source of unexplained joy, just like what Peter expressed when he said: “Master, it is good that we are here!” It gives us a glimpse and a taste of heaven. This is the spiritual benefit of prayer.
g) Second, prayer also helps us psychologically. It gives us an opportunity to “unload” our burdens, thoughts and feelings. Nowadays, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists are earning a lot from just listening to people’s problems and troubles. Most of these people do not have healthy prayer life. So, when problems and crises come, they are stressed, depressed and anxious. Then they pay lots of money to psychologists who do not do anything but just sit and listen. In prayer, God listens, and there is no charge for that. Many studies have already revealed that people who have good spiritual lives are happier and more at peace despite the daily problems and difficulties in life. On the other hand, people who are very materialistic, and may already have become very wealthy, are prone to suicides and mental illness. Japan, Korea, the US and many European countries have very high suicide rates, despite the material affluence they enjoy. Learning to pray, taking time to pray, truly helps – it gives us peace of mind.
h) Third, prayer helps us build a more amiable and loving personality. Through prayer, we become close to God. This kind of relationship with God makes us confident and at peace. We do not easily get agitated, upset and irritated. Our personality becomes pleasant and we edify other people. This is very true with holy people. If in case we catch ourselves grouchy and irritable, it is a warning sign that our prayer life is not healthy, and we are affected by the hustle and bustle of the world. That is why we need to take some time off for prayer, get back to our “mountain” to commune with God. Retreats and recollections are really necessary in our life.
i) Fourth, prayer gives us divine inspiration, wisdom and knowledge. For example, just praying the Rosary with devotion and attention will open our minds and hearts to a flood of inspiring thoughts, ideas and even solutions to our problems. It is like turning the tuning knob of our transistor radio to the frequency of a broadcasting radio station. When we pray, we are attuned to the frequency of God – we hear His message, we receive divine inspiration, wisdom and instructions. We will never go wrong! This is the reason why Jesus praised the humble and the childlike because the mysteries of God are revealed to them, while these are hidden from the wise and the learned. The mysteries of God’s kingdom are known, not in books and universities, but by revelation of the Holy Spirit through prayer and contemplation. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta did not study Philosophy and Theology, but she knows God better than most Cardinals and Bishops. St. Therese of the Child Jesus was just a simple nun in the convent. She did not leave the monastery until she died at the age of 24. She was declared Doctor of the Church (official teacher of the Church) and Patron Saint of the Missions.
j) Jesus and his apostles did not stay on the mountain for too long. They had to come down and continue to fulfill their mission. Christian life does not consist of prayer alone; it also includes work. St. Augustine said: “Pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on you.” Prayer without good works is lifeless; work without prayer is meaningless and fruitless.
- Closing – Song: “Time to Change”
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