Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent 03/5/2023

My dear sisters and brothers in the Lord,

It’s interesting to recall that the great episode we hear in the Lord’s life today, in that moment when He was Transfigured in the Glory, glimpsing the Glory He has as God, that that episode has its own feast day in the life of the church: it is August 6th. And so it’s interesting that the same episode is always repeated every second Sunday in Lent. Perhaps in part because it has something important to teach us about what Lent means. But I would like to suggest it also can teach us a lesson about our lives in general that at times we forget.

There are two things we need to remember before we can answer that question. What is this lesson?

The first is at this point in Jesus’s Ministry, Jesus had already looked, placed His sights on going to Jerusalem. Peter had professed Him to be the Messiah. And Jesus then begins to turn His ministry and is walking towards Jerusalem because He knows what awaits Him; where you and I will celebrate in just a few weeks, where He will freely and willingly give His life over as the ultimate victory of Love over sin and death. He will show us the face of pure, genuine, divine love here in this cross, which we will commemorate in about five weeks.

The second is when Jesus chose the disciples, the apostles He wanted to accompany Him on this little side trip. He chose them purposely because consider what awaited them.

John, the only Apostle who would not abandon Jesus at the foot of the cross and to whom the Blessed Mother was given, imagined the suffering he endured to watch his beloved master and friend die before his very eyes. James, the leader of the Jerusalem Church, the first of the Apostles to be martyred infidelity to Jesus. And then there is Peter, who would have to undergo The Crucible of suffering in his weakness, betraying Jesus to his face, and then in the agony he endured to understand how frail and sinful he was, and to rediscover the power of God’s mercy.

Each had a path to suffering walking in the footsteps of the Lord.

So on the first level, the answer to the question is obvious; that is the Lord took them and reminds us that we are to be encouraged in times of suffering. That He’s always there even though we may not see His glory. His glory is there, His love is there, His power is there, even in the darkest moments of our lives, even in the most profound moments of suffering. Love will conquer all things. And he is love made flesh.

And we rejoice in the encouragement. But I think there is a deeper lesson, and it all comes from the natural instinct that the apostles had: to make a tent.

Strange isn’t it? Of course they were itinerants which meant they went from city to village and town to town. And I’m sure many a time they would make a tent precisely to remain in a place for a while. And what was the instinct, the impulse for the apostles was: this is great! We could see His power because His glory, we could see it on glimpse. So let’s stay a while. Let’s build some tents for Jesus, Moses, Elijah and we’ll stay too because this is what I really want.

And what does Jesus do? His Father says He is my beloved Son and Jesus says ‘let’s get up and keep walking.’

For the temptation in life, my friends, is to shy away from the sufferings we will have to endure to be faithful to Jesus. Our temptation in discipleship is to try to find the places where life continues, to go great and stay there.

But you and I know that if you and I are going to love, we are inevitably going to have to sacrifice. We know that there are times when we will have to take ourselves. There are times when we will have to suffer, to tell the truth, to challenge people, to love them with their true good in mind; not cheap love, not love the world wants, but the love that Jesus teaches us.

You see my friends, we don’t have to look for suffering in life; it will find us if we are faithful to Christ. And in those moments we have a choice to make. Either we remain faithful and keep walking, reminded, encouraged by Jesus, is there even when we don’t see His glory. But He is there with this strength and mercy. He’s the one who wipes away our tears. He’s the one who whispers encouragement in the bitter hours of the night when there’s no one there.

Perhaps (He) actually understands how deeply we are in pain. He is there at every moment, of every time, of every day in our deepest sufferings, if those sufferings are for love. And as a disciple we can never shy away from our journey to Calvary. And when we want to build a tent and be satisfied with some other cheap form of Glory, we are making a terrible mistake.

And that is why we are in Lent. So that we might together, as sisters and brothers, walk this journey that will be one of repentance, penance, abstinence, fasting and sacrifice. Not because the Lord wants us to suffer, but the Lord wants to teach us the true meaning of love. And encouraging us in His glory reminding us that when we are at Calvary, it is not the end, it is the beginning of our victory in Him.

So my dear friends, as we meditate on the Mystery of the Transfiguration, what do you choose to do? Build a tent, or keep walking?