Homily for 2nd Sunday in Lent, The Transfiguration

posted Mar 13, 2017, 11:54 AM by Church Office   [ updated Mar 13, 2017, 11:54 AM by Michelle Massung ]

            Well, today is the beginning of the second week of Lent. How are you doing with your Lenten promises of prayer, fasting and almsgiving?  Today, we get a little help in keeping these commitments. In today’s Gospel, Jesus shows us our goal for this Lenten season when he ascends the Mountain to pray and is then transformed from his earthly presence to his heavenly presence in front of his most trusted Apostles. Let’s face it, we are a very goal oriented society and it helps us to persevere in our efforts if we can get a glimpse of the trophy that awaits us at the end of Lent, a heart and soul that shines brightly like Jesus did when he was transfigured.

            Let’s look at the Gospel passage a little closer. Jesus climbing the mountain signifies that he is going to take some time and pray to God, His Father. To Jesus, prayer is transformative. He is striving to do the will of His Father and to determine exactly what that will is for Him requires quiet time of prayer. Since Jesus normally prayed at night, most biblical scholars believe the transfiguration took place at night. That is why Matthew makes such a big deal about how bright the white of Jesus’ clothing became. When Jesus is transfigured, His death, resurrection and ascension are seen in one instant, and in all its glory. This signifies how we are called to die to self at our baptism and be re-baptized into a life of Christ during our Lenten journey. At the end of the passage, the voice of God is heard by the Apostles. “This is my beloved son, Listen to him.” God is reaffirming the message of Christ. What He is giving the Apostles, the ones that have just learned that they are going to have to suffer and die like Christ, is hope and the belief that their efforts will be worthwhile. As I stated earlier, everyone that is trying to achieve a goal needs faith and hope that their efforts have a chance of success and will not be just a wasted effort. This sense of faith and hope is the key ingredient of why we make this Lenten journey. We truly believe that at the end of Lent, Christ will suffer and die for our sins and on Easter, will rise again for our salvation.

            But what about us? Are we willing to undergo the same type of transformation process this Lenten season? To achieve our goal of transforming our lives to be more like Jesus is going to take hard work and sacrifice. Yet, God reassures us that our efforts will be worthwhile.

            So how does this transformation take place in our lives this Lenten season? It starts with prayer. In praying we are transformed from our earthly existence to our heavenly existence. By communicating with God we grow closer to him. In prayer, we make our requests made. We ask Him to intercede in our lives, to handle some of our most difficult situations such as restoring health to a loved one, to aid in a financial crisis, or to help us find a job. Yet to conform our lives closer to God and to God’s will, we need to pray to accept God’s will in our lives. We are called, not ask God to do something for us, but rather, to discuss the situation with God and put it in God’s hands for Him to answer in the way He sees fit. This is truly trusting in God and conforming our heart to God. For example, if you are experiencing some financial difficulties, instead of asking God to help you to find a job, pray to God by offering up your financial situation to God and let God decide how He is going to help you. Or when I was first thinking about becoming a priest, I was asked to pray, not for verification of what I thought, but rather, to empty myself completely and let God speak to me about what He wanted me to do. This idea of surrender unites us with the desires of God for our lives, rather than trying to “get God to do what we want him to do.” It is in this total surrender that we are truly transformed to be more like Christ.

            Another method of praying is offering our suffering, our trials and tribulations up to God, like Jesus did, for the glory of God. God does not intend anyone to suffer. He did not want his Son to suffer and die on the cross. Yet He knew that once Adam and Eve had committed the first sin, we as humans would be stained with Original sin, and He would have to send his son to suffer and die for our salvation. This is his gift of love for us. As humans we are imperfect created beings and all have our crosses to bear. For some it is an illness, to others it could be loneliness, or depression, or financial hardships or trouble in our relationships with others. Regardless of what cross we are asked to carry, we have two choices. We can unite our cross with the cross that Jesus hangs upon or we can feel sorry for ourselves and wallow our lives away in self pity and resentment. However, if we unite our pain and suffering to Jesus on the cross, we share in the glory he brings to God in this offering. As a result, our hearts grow closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

            Another way to be transformed in prayer is in offering up prayers for the needs of others and not our own needs. By praying to God for others, we let go of our ego and self-centeredness and empty ourselves of us, so that God can fill our hearts and souls with his grace. Yet, our prayers are not enough. We need to help God answer our prayers. For instance, if I pray to God to bring comfort and healing to my aunt and yet, I don’t call her or visit her in the hospital, then why should I expect God to do something I am not willing to do? If you pray for someone to find a job, what can you do to help them to find that job? It is not enough for us to pray and then sit back and let God do all the work. If we help God, we are transformed into God’s disciples and followers of Christ.

            As I stated earlier, we are all sinners and regardless of how great the goal of heaven is in our lives, we are going to get off track of that goal. We let our sinful nature pull us off course of our Lenten journey, to the easy way.  We become part of the world instead of Christ’s ambassadors to it. Those that attain the goal of transformation during lent are not just the ones that never falter along the way, no, the winners are also the ones that after they have fallen get back up and try again. Winners are losers that get up one more time and continue the race. We need to remember the words of St. Paul, to fight the good fight to finish the race and to keep our eyes on the prize and to press on. So this lent, pray to accept God’s will in your life, to offer your suffering up to Jesus upon the cross and to put other’s interests and needs above others like Jesus did. In this way, we too will be transformed from our earthly existence to our heavenly existence here on earth. May the Holy Spirit guide you this week as you grow closer to God.