Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Last Sunday, the first reading presented the original vocation of man and his fall from grace. Adam and Eve were created to dwell in paradise with God, but they rejected this vocation and sought to become gods on their own. Jesus, on the other hand, is the New Adam, who is victorious over temptation and restores humanity to its original vocation.
Today, we contemplate Abraham’s vocation to become the father of God’s people. Three promises are given to Abraham by God: first, Abraham will be the father of a great nation; second, Abraham’s name will be made great; third, all of the families and communities of the earth will be blessed in Abraham. Each of the promises is backed by a covenant between God and Abraham: the covenant of pieces in Genesis 15; the covenant of circumcision in Genesis 17; and the covenant of the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22.
The last covenant is particularly important because it most likely occurred on Mount Zion, in the land of Moriah, and prefigures the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. The promise made to Abraham is fulfilled by Jesus: all nations are blessed through him who is the son of Abraham and the son of David. The glorious blessing obtained by Jesus comes about by way of the Cross. And this is the heart of Paul’s message to Timothy: “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God”. Hardship and patient suffering leads to holiness and victory over death.
In the Gospel, the conversation between Moses, Elijah and Jesus was about Jesus’ passing (exodus) from this world – about his passion, death and resurrection in Jerusalem. This passing will be the climax of all human history. Jesus knows that his passion and his death are going to be a difficult trial for his disciples and so he gives three of his apostles – Peter, James and John – a foretaste of the glory that awaits them and us. The path to glory, they will learn, passes through the Cross. Along this path, we are guided by the words of Jesus Christ. The Father tells us: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”.
The first two Sundays of Lent, then, are an anticipation of the celebrations of Holy Week. The temptation of Jesus looks forward to his Agony in the Garden and Passion on the Cross; the Transfiguration of Jesus looks forward to his Resurrection. Like the apostles, we are strengthened in our Lenten journey by the contemplation of Jesus’ Transfiguration. In this mystery, we see the glory that awaits us as sons and daughters of God.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at [email protected].