FIRST READING Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
The Lord God took Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.” Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness. He then said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.” “O Lord God,” he asked, “how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He answered him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Abram brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut up. Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram stayed with them. As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him. When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. It was on that occasion that the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.”
SECOND READING Philippians 3:17—4:1
Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord.
GOSPEL Luke 9:28b-36
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
This Second Sunday of Lent always has an account of the Transfiguration of Christ in the Gospel and the Great Promise to Abraham in the first reading from the Book of Genesis. These are immensely important stories in our Christian tradition and we need to give our attention to them with a bit of depth to understand who we are when we follow Jesus Christ.
The Book of Genesis in a foundational document for the Jewish people and for us who follow Jesus Christ. As we understand more this historical relationship of God with His People, the more we come to understand Jesus coming in the flesh to save us. The Book of Genesis is all about the beginnings of human beings—not in a scientific way but in the way of faith.
We who follow Jesus believe that God loves this world so much that He never abandons us. Instead, God is always renewing His love for us and rescuing us from that which would destroy us. Our God reaches into time and history out of love, not with any intent to destroy us. God chooses a people to be His own, not because he rejects all other peoples but because His People have a special role to play in bringing salvation to all other peoples.
Abraham is among the first to hear this calling of the Lord. It is a call to follow the Lord, even when it seems impossible. Abraham, and then Sarah with Him, begin to follow with this God is asking of them. Right away there is the Great Promise: “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”
In the second reading, from the Letter to the Philippians, we have this Great Promise to us: He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.
The challenge is to believe and to have the faith that Abraham had in this God who loves us and seeks us out and gives us promises. It is not easy because it demands that we look beyond this life and it demands that we enter into a relationship with the living God on His terms.
The Gospel from Saint Luke gives an account of the Transfiguration. It was such a strange experience even for those who were present that Peter begins to talk about making tents! And the Gospel tells us that Peter did not know what he was saying. It was clearly such a strong and unusual experience that other Gospels even speak of Peter sort of being out of his mind!
But the Transfiguration account is given today because the great voice from heaven speaks out, just as in the Baptism of the Lord: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
My sisters and brothers, we are heirs of the promise to Abraham and we are witnesses to the accounts of the Baptism and the Transfiguration. God promises us that we also will be transformed (transfigured). Let us listen to Him!
Your brother in the Lord,