2nd Sunday Lent Year A:
Today the Lord takes Peter, James and John up Mt. Tabor. There we learn a few things from our Lord.
Last week we went out into the desert with Our Lord to learn about fasting, prayer and penance. One thing we learn this week is that Lent requires effort. If go hiking in the mountains or even drive through the mountains, we quickly realize the difficulty. When you are hiking up a mountain you quickly realize your weakness. Lent is a hike up the mountain with Our Lord to get to the summit and reach His transfiguration. But if we are not putting in much effort, putting in the penance, hours in prayer, fasting, we won’t get very far.
The second thing we learn is the importance of faith. We must grow in faith, trust and reliance on God. Our Lord is not taking us out in the desert and up the mountain just for fun. He wants us to follow Him and come and see. To really gain grace from our prayer, fasting, and penance it must be done with great love and faith. When this is our motivation, we begin to make great sacrifices for God. We see this exposed in the story of Abraham. How shocking God’s words must have been to Abraham when he said, “Take your son, Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust.” This went against every paternal instinct in Abraham. It was a three day journey. Abraham loaded the wood of the sacrifice on Isaac’s shoulders and when Isaac asked “Where is the lamb for the Holocaust?,” Abraham prophetically replied, “God himself will provide the lamb.” Abraham built the altar, tied down Isaac and took out his knife to slaughter his son. It’s at that moment, the angel of the Lord stopped him, saying, “Abraham! Abraham! … Do not lay your hand on the boy. Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
After the great assent up the mountain Peter, James, and John then see what its all about. They experience the Transfiguration. Why did this scene of the Transfiguration happen? The reason was ultimately to strengthen them to remain strong in faith even when they would descend the Mount of Transfiguration to ascend Mount Calvary. When they would see Jesus transfigured in blood, they would be able to remember Jesus in glory. The Church helps us to capture the reason for Jesus’ transfiguration in the Preface of today’s Mass, in which the priest prays, “For after [Jesus] had told the disciples of his coming Death, on the holy mountain he manifested to them his glory, to show, even by the testimony of the law and the prophets, that the Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection.” It was to sustain their faith in trial. It’s meant to sustain us.
This vision of Jesus’ glory is what has sustained the faith of the martyrs in making the sacrifice of themselves for God, because they knew that once they breathed their last, they would see Jesus transfigured again forever.
This Lent our Lord is calling us like Abraham, to trust in God’s mercy and leave our own customary places and go to the place where the Lord wishes to lead us. Through our intensification in prayer, penance, and fasting, to make it to the summit with Him to be in His glory forever.