A Lenten Journey
For 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year C, Father Hanly offers us his homily “A Lenten Journey.”
Readings for Second Sunday of Lent, Year C
- First Reading: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14
- Second Reading: Philippians 3:17–4:1 or 3:20–4:1
- Gospel: Luke 9:28-36
At first, it was a very popular event, Jesus preaching on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, so many people that he had to ask Peter for use of his boat to pull out a bit from the shore.
And there he spoke of the coming of the Kingdom of God, words of healing and compassion, of hope and the dawn of a new world unfolding.
And people were enthralled by the wonders that he worked in healing the sick of body and of heart. Could it be the beginning of the Messianic Age?
But as Jesus journeyed north, further and further away from the city of Jerusalem, the crowds grew smaller and things began to change.
It seems that God does not need nor want popular heroes to change the world, apparently what God needs and wants are givers not takers, a suffering servant, one who gives his heart and soul, his whole self.
And all this was very painful news for his disciples who were arguing among themselves as to whom was the greater among them.
They begin to wonder and doubt as the crowds of people begin to leave Jesus as he journeys south towards the city of Jerusalem, telling his disciples along the way that he must go there to suffer and to die. They did not understand what he was talking about.
And as they walk along with Jesus, we see how delicately and quietly Jesus continues to reach out to people, to the sick, the wounded of body and soul, reaching out to the lonely and supporting the faint hearted.
But most of all, he lives with them, walks and talks with them , shares their joys, their laughter, their tears and his own tears with them.
Jesus knows it is the only way to be: to live, to love, to work to change the world for the better.
Jesus does not offer hope for a new world, Jesus is the new world: “the word made flesh and dwelling amongst us.” God will always be with us, otherwise he is not God. The Bible says God is love, and he shares his gift of love with everyone.
As today’s Gospel begins, Jesus takes Peter, John and James with him up the mountain to pray.
And while he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became white. And two men were conversing with him, Moses the Lawgiver, and Elijah the Prophet 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 now 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.
And suddenly, while he was speaking, a cloud (sign and symbol of the presence of God) came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
And from the cloud came a voice that said: “This is my chosen Son: listen to him!”
And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
The disciples fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
And despite Peter’s request to remain on the mountain top to build three shrines, Jesus leads the disciples down into the low lands, for their work was not to be praying on the mountaintop, but working in the slums and hovels of the needy and the poor.
It’s a great story. And what Luke wants us to understand, and what is passed down through the centuries, is that the journey with Jesus is a journey that we all go together.
It is a journey that, when we embrace Jesus in faith, we walk with him to our own Jerusalem. We walk with him through life, leading us safely home to his Father in heaven.
But, along the way, there is very, very many difficulties, many troubles, many things that must be overcome.
And we must remember the brilliance of Jesus, who is almost speaking from another world, telling us:
“Do not be afraid, for I have passed through all these things, and I tell you there is nothing but light, there is nothing but joy, there is nothing but a transcendence, a transfigured world, and you will make it possible if only your faith will hold.”