Second Sunday of Lent
As its name implies, Genesis reveals the divine origin of life and Almighty God’s plan in the forming of the Hebrew race.
First and foremost, Genesis is a splendidly vivid revelation of God’s majesty and power, but also of the dignity of humanity and purpose of life. It is a great pity that this marvelous book has been so tortured and misconstrued by well-meaning but uninformed readers over the years. Genesis is not about the details of how creation occurred, since scientific conclusions in this regard dramatically have changed through the centuries.
This weekend’s reading is about Abraham. Considered by scholars to have been an actual person and not a myth, Abraham is regarded as the father of the Jewish people.
The reading makes several points. God is active in human affairs. God communicates with humans and they with God.
Abraham has very strong faith. God rewards this faith by pledging that Abraham’s descendants, until the end of time, will be God’s special people. This dignity confers obligation. Descendants of Abraham must be loyal to God and reveal God to the world.
In the second reading Timothy was a disciple of Paul. The Church venerates Timothy as a great saint, very important in the formation of Christianity. Timothy was the son of a pagan father and a devout Jewish mother, and he was Paul’s secretary at one point. Once, Timothy was imprisoned with Paul, although Timothy eventually was released. Tradition is that Timothy was the first bishop of Ephesus, then a major city. Its present ruins lie on the Mediterranean coast of modern Turkey.
This reading encourages Timothy to be strong in his Christian belief despite many difficulties and obstacles.
St. Matthew’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is the story of the Transfiguration, ablaze with symbols of God with which any Jew instantly would have been familiar, as these images appear throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.
In this reading are references to brilliant light, mountaintops, a voice from the sky and pure white, all associated with God. Finally, surrounding Jesus were Moses and Elijah, the great heroes of the Jews.
This scene totally contrasts with Calvary, where, instead of appearing in shimmering clothes, Jesus was stripped of His garments. Instead of glowing clouds and brilliant light, gloom and darkness surrounded the cross.
Lent is little more than one week along, and already the Church is encouraging us and reinforcing our faith, just as Jesus strengthened the faith of the Apostles who stood trembling before the divine sight manifested on the mountain.
The message is clear. Jesus is God, active and present among us.
To be saved, we must truly believe. More than voicing words, we must commit our very lives to Christ. So, Abraham is critically a part of this weekend’s lesson as an example.
While nowhere in these readings is any account of the crucifixion or to the other events of Good Friday, recalling the Lord’s death on the cross is essential to understanding fully this weekend’s message.
Calvary represents the world. For a moment, seemingly, earthly power and human sin triumphed over good. Certainly, the enemies of Jesus saw the crucifixion as their victory. Jesus died, but then came the wonder of Easter.
Every human being can be tricked into assuming that earthly things, or earthly satisfaction, will bring them reward. They do not. Ignoring God brings death. It has been proven untold millions of times.
So, the Church counsels us to have faith, to look beyond the gloom, and to follow the light of Jesus. Remember the Transfiguration. Remember Abraham. Remember what actually matters in life.
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