2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A

We have two homilies by Father Hanly for 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A: the in-depth and moving “Transfigured by the Love of God” and the succinct “Transfiguration.”

Two Homilies:

Transfigured by the Love of God

Transfigured by the Love of God

Father Hanly’s homily for 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A, was delivered following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011.

Readings for Second Sunday of Lent, Year A

  • First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
  • Second Reading: Second Timothy 1:8-10
  • Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9



Today we begin our homily with a special message of condolence from Father John Kwan, our parish priest here at St Margaret’s Church in Happy Valley. It is to the people of Japan on the tragic earthquake in that country. And, as you may know, a group of the Japanese Christian community has been coming to this church each Sunday for many years. And Father Gudalefsky, when their Mass comes together, will read this special announcement to the Japanese people:

“On behalf of our pastoral team, priests, deacon and sisters, we wish to express our deepest empathy to all our Japanese brothers and sisters who suffer tremendously during this time, especially you, our brothers and sisters in the Lord who have made St Margaret’s parish your very own. We wish to offer our most fervent prayers to our good Lord and beg Him to reach out His mighty hand to save and heal your most beautiful country, and aid and protect all its people, who are the bravest we have ever met. If we can be of help to you in any way, please consider us as members of your own family.
Father John Kwan,
Parish Priest, St Margaret’s Parish.”

Today’s gospel is very appropriate to what Father Kwan is asking God to help the people of our own parish. It’s very appropriate that it should come upon the day that we read this gospel of the Transfiguration.

Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, is on his way to Jerusalem, and the journey will end in his arrest, in his condemnation, in his mockery. He will be mocked. He will be whipped. He will be reduced to the level that the Bible itself says, “Cursed be the man who hangs upon a tree.” And he will hang upon a tree and he will die.

And Jesus knows, he knows that this will be too much for his own disciples to bear. Those who very soon will shout on Palm Sunday, “Hosanna to the Highest” and welcome the Messiah, will all scatter and they will leave him to himself, alone.

He knows what it is like to be at the edges of despair, to be just a very short distance from feeling that he has been abandoned and alone. And he knows this great disappointment will fill the hearts of his disciples who will scatter in every direction when he’s arrested in the garden.

Jesus takes three of his most trusted disciples, Peter, James and his brother, John, up a high mountain. And we know everything important in the gospels, and in the Bible, happens on a high mountain.

He goes up the mountain and, suddenly, something changes. The disciples see that two people have suddenly appeared.

And one, of course, is Moses, who went up the high mountain to make a bargain with God, that there would be a covenant of love that would last forever between God and His people, the children of Israel.

And the other was Elijah the prophet who, as Scripture says, was taken up in a fiery chariot and never seen again. And it was said that one day, when the Chosen One, the Messiah himself, comes, as God has promised to send him, comes into this world to be our Saviour, at that time Elijah will come first.

And then, suddenly, the whole scene changes and Jesus’ face shines like the sun and his garments are as white as snow.

And there, Peter gets carried away and he doesn’t know what he’s babbling, because he’s in a half trance like the other two. And he says first, “Jesus, it is good for us to be here, Master. Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

And then, suddenly, thunder rolls and a cloud comes over, a cloud that is the sign and symbol of the cloud that led them all through the desert for forty years until they found the Promised Land.

And the voice of God comes from the cloud and the voice says to the disciples, who now are almost beside themselves, says those immortal words, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

And then, as quick as it came, it all disappears, and when the disciples raise their heads, they see only Jesus.

And Jesus looks at them and he says, “Tell this vision to no one until I have been raised from the dead.” And it’s all over.

Why is this such a special gospel to read on this very special day when we pay tribute to a people who seem to be being tested beyond human ability to deal with it?

The things that they most trusted, the things that they felt pride and glory in, were destroyed before them, and great fear swept the land, because it is not over and they are asked to sit, perhaps, in solemn silence for help to come.

And, of course, this is the way the apostles were when Jesus was arrested and taken from them.

And later when they saw him hanging on the cross, it seemed the end of everything, and yet it was the beginning of something new. It was the beginning of Jesus announcing from the cross, all is forgiven: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

This was about them and all the people that would follow that would refuse to hear and refuse to listen.

And then, of course, on the third day, he rises from the dead.

Whenever we’re in trouble, whenever it seems that our little world is being threatened, when it seems like the rattle of sabres is going to lead us to another destructive war or, even worse, that the very earth from under us creaks and quakes in seeming protest to the world that we have created, and whenever we feel that, especially these days, that we can only live day by day, because, in a way, the future is dark and the future is treacherous and the future is not even to be guessed at but only hoped that it will be better than the present, these are the times when we seek Jesus and we think of Jesus, who gave his own disciples his vision before he suffered these things, that they might restore their faith in who he was and what he came to be.

And later, he will say to them, after his rising he will say, “Do not be afraid. I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the whole world.”

And then, suddenly, the disciples rise up and they are filled with a new confidence.

The pains will come and the disasters will happen, but their faith will be restored because they know that God does not abandon His children, He does not leave them orphans, but He is with them, even in the worst of times, as well as the best of times.

And during the worst of times, they can take new courage and they can be fed by the Resurrection, because the disciples were given an idea of the transfiguration of God, not to tell us that someday this was going to happen to us or that someday when we pass on to the next world that then we will be transfigured into a new world, Jesus was saying to us, “Here and now, what you have seen me as, in that brief moment of ecstatic understanding, you already are, you already are transfigured by the love of God.

“You already are transfigured by the fact that nothing in this life can harm you. It can touch you, it can make you sometimes frightened, but it cannot harm you, because you have been destined for eternal life and that life has already begun in you.”

And that is why Jesus says, “Learn to love. Love your neighbour as yourself, for every time you love with your whole heart, you will understand that you are immortal already. And you need not wait until the time that the angels come to carry you into Abraham’s bosom, because you have become already what Jesus wants you to know you already are.

This is what it means to have your faith in him. This is what it means when we say, “They have seen his glory.”

The expression “They have seen his glory” does not mean they have seen the shining face, the transfigured body. When they say about Jesus, “They have seen his glory,” they mean they have seen what he really is. It has been the revelation of the greatness of human beings.

When we say glory to God, we say that with a full heart, saying praise and glory be yours. But when we say, “We have seen his glory,” it means we have seen what he really is behind the little places he hides, the depth and the loveliness and the importance of what it means to be a human being.

And so, today, we say to our brothers and sisters, the people of Japan, we say to them, “We have seen your worth and God takes you to Himself.”



In this short homily for 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A, Father Hanly looks at the Transfiguration.

Readings for Second Sunday of Lent, Year A

  • First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
  • Second Reading: Second Timothy 1:8-10
  • Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

Written Homily

In today’s Gospel, Jesus takes his three favorite disciples, Peter, James and John, his brother, up a high mountain, the sacred Mount Tabor.

When they arrive at the top, the disciples are tired and stop for a rest. They fall asleep.

Jesus goes further on, kneels down and prays to his Father in heaven. He asks his Father’s support and guidance, for he knows what lies before him, his passion and his death in Jerusalem.

After a time, he returns to his disciples for comfort. They are still half asleep, and finally as their eyes are opened, they suddenly see a great change. The face of their Lord shines like the sun, just as Moses’ did when he received the covenant from God Himself on Mount Sinai over two thousand years before. And the disciples fall to the ground again in awe and fear, their heads bowed low.

When they finally look up again, they see two men standing one on each side of Jesus: Moses, the Liberator, who led the people of God out of the slavery of Egypt and into the Promised Land; and Elijah the prophet, who in times of great peril when the people strayed and all seemed lost, single handedly brought the children of God back from the darkness and returned them safety to where they belonged, in the arms of God, their Father and protector.

And then the disciples suddenly raise their heads to the heavens, they see a great cloud and from the cloud they hear a majestic voice speak: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Beautiful words, gentle but firm: Listen to him!

And, of course, Jesus is reassured that his Father has never left him, in fact he is closer now than ever. Yes, his disciples are dumbfounded, but they, too, realize the sudden change in Jesus their Lord. He is not now just a companion along the road, but the Son of God, who loves them, is sharing his life with them, and invites them to share in the life and love of God his Father.

What does the future hold for the disciples?

Jesus knows those who follow him will be severely tested, surrounded by enemies, rejected by friends, even their families will abuse and scorn them. It is then the disciples must hold firm. Yes, at first they all ran away, leaving only Mary, his Mother, with John and a few loyal friends to weep at the foot of the cross.

And what of Peter and James, two out of the three disciples who, just a short time before, witnessed the Transfiguration of their Lord and Master?

They too wept, but tears of shame for having left their dear Lord to face his enemies all alone. However, they also would recall the moments of glory they shared with Jesus on the mountain top, and heard from the Cloud the voice of his Father cry out: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

They who ran away would return, finding a new faith and a deeper courage with which to create a new hope for the future. The risen Lord welcomes, heals, comforts, and manifests his great love for them and, yes, for us all as well.

And out of the tears of pain and sorrow, down through the ages all peoples shall come to know it is out of the forgiveness and self-sacrificing love of Jesus that the glory of God his Father shines through a dark and dreary world to create new life, and a new way of living for us all.

FAQ for Homily for 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A

When is 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A, in 2023?5th March 2023
What is the title of Father Hanly’s homily for Second Sunday of Lent, Year A?"Transfigured by the Love of God" and "Transfiguration"
What is the next homily by Father Hanly in this Liturgical Cycle?
3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A
Who was Father Hanly?Father Denis J. Hanly was a Maryknoll Missionary
How can we find other homilies by Father Hanly?By Liturgical Calendar or by topic or by title

Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A

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If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2023), please contact us for permission.

Father Hanly's sermon for 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A, "Transfigured by the Love of God" was delivered on 20th March 2011. Father Hanly's sermon for 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A, "Transfiguration" was delivered on 16th March 2014. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.

We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.

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