The Transforming Presence of God: A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent

By Sr. Princess Mary Dawson, MHSH

Click here for the Mass readings.

 

 

The readings of the Second Sunday of Lent are a like a roadmap, guiding us and grounding us in hope. At times we may feel like Abram in the first reading, unsure how things will unfold.

But the Lord made a covenant with Abram, promising that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. We can be comforted that even when we cannot see what lies beyond, God walks with us in our fears and doubts.

Then we turn to the Transfiguration account in the Gospel and watch Peter, James and John take the journey to Mount Tabor. There had to be some soul searching going on in them about who this Jesus was. Perhaps they were even hesitant as they journeyed. Imagine reaching the top of the mountain and seeing Moses and Elijah conversing with Jesus. Like Peter, we might want to memorialize this encounter. The encounter is nonetheless memorialized with the proclamation from the clouds “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” Silence follows this event.

The words from the clouds were enough to ponder in their hearts. Possibly they left in fear or in confusion regarding the meaning of what transpired. Even so, Jesus was with them though they did not fully understand what it all meant. We can be comforted that no matter what we face, whatever we do not understand or whatever struggles we confront, we can be certain that Jesus is with us. May we always listen to the beloved Son of God. Amen.

 

 

 

Called by Circumstances

A Reflection by Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

In the first reading for the Second Sunday of Lent (GN 12:1-4A) God tells Abram:

“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”

Midrash is one of my favorite things.  (No, it’s not a terrible affliction akin to shingles, although that’s what it sounds like.)  Midrash is the practice of students of scripture who read a passage like the one above and wonder what happened before and after the event recorded.

What might have led up to it?  What outcomes were possible?  It’s all speculation, of course—none of it is verifiable in history—but pondering a reading in that way can be quite rich.

stars 2 Magic SkiesMy first thought on this little reading is, “God sure knows how to sweeten a deal!”  Certainly God realized how wrenching it would be for Abram to surrender his land.  Ownership of land in many (not all) cultures confers status, security, even the right to vote (as in our country at one time).  Abram should give all that up?

“You must be kidding, God.”

But then the sweetener:  God promises Abram a new great nation, a wonderful reputation, unlimited blessings.  Wow!  So “Abram went as the Lord directed him.”  Lucky for us he was so easily persuaded.  But, I have to wonder what his wife had to say!

Circumstances call us, (not divine voices exactly, but…) and we are rarely so compliant as Abram.  We dither, ponder, discuss, maybe dispute.  “Why should I do that, or go there or accept such-and-such or so-and-so?  Why me, now, here?  What if I had other plans?”

I think particularly of women I’ve known or heard about—mothers of young families whose husbands suddenly die—a car crash, a stroke, a heart attack.  Then what?  How to acquiesce to that?  How to go on?  Could I?

For Reflection:

 Is such a tragedy a call that can bring its own grace, making acceptance possible?  Are such experiences our transfiguring events?  How many such calls come to us in the course of one lifetime? How do we answer them?

The Transfiguration – A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent

Excerpted from a Meditation by Larry Gillick, S.J., Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality

[Readings: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Ps 116:10, 15, 16-19; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10]

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent presents the Transfiguration, or the “the Changing of the Garb.”  Peter, James and John go up a hill with Jesus.  They have a most intimate encounter with Jesus, God the Beyond, and, of course, themselves.

Jesus dazzles his followers with some state of glorification. Moses, the man of the law, and Elijah, the man of prophesy, are seen conversing with Jesus.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and the “voice” again ordains him as “my beloved son.”  The terrified trio is encouraged also to “listen to him.”

Immediately after this experience, there they are, just the four again and nobody else, no other sounds.  They leave with this experience and their questions about what it was all about.  They are charged by Jesus not to speak about it until he had risen from the dead. They did not understand this, either, but they kept on walking back down from this hill of intimacy.

Peter, James and John experienced an unusual convention and communion.  They are “befuddled-beholders” and they go off into the routine down-the-hill living of their lives.

Their faith seems to be strengthened, but at the same time they experience bewilderment and must ask themselves about the “realness” of what has just happened.

Devotion, prayer, liturgy can be similar calls to simple and honest closeness.  Trying to figure out these experiences and explain them cheapens them and flattens them out into a practice rather than a delight. We go toward a time of being met by the Holy, given something of ourselves by the encouragement and comfort of God’s presence and then sent away, but always the little question, “Was that really real? Or was I talking to myself, comforting myself, judging myself?”

Intimacy with God does not lead to comprehending, but to sending, living, transfiguring, changing because we are so loved.  I wish to come away from every liturgy or times of personal prayer less able to explain why I live the way I do.  I wish to be a befuddlement  and, in a sense, be a transfigurational experience, not easily explained away.

Reflection:  Am I able to delight in the unexplainable mysteries and experiences of my faith?