Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent ©, March 17th, 2019:
Today’s readings deal with transformation. “Transformation” is defined as “to change in composition or structure” or “to change the outward form or appearance of” or “to change in character or condition.” All three of those definitions fit. To “transfigure” means “to change the form or appearance of” and “to exalt or glorify.” Those definitions fit too.
The reading from Genesis shows God promising Abram descendants and land. Remember last week’s reading from Deuteronomy. Abram is the wandering Aramean, and ancestor of the Jews who receives the land God promises him in today’s reading. Abram is old and childless. God promises him descendants as numerous as the stars. It says that “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness”(Gen 15:6). So we can see from this reading that Abram now has complete trust in the Lord and he is righteous. These are two attributes that we can identify in Abram because of what his reaction to God’s promise is. From there Abram trusts Yahweh completely and moves beyond his anxiety and doubts. Abram’s total reliance on Yahweh puts him in right relationship with Yahweh. Yahweh promises Abram a son who will be his heir. This heir will be the biological son of Abram and Sara. His name is Isaac. The Lord enters into a covenant with Abram to make it happen. Yahweh will do what He promises to do. Psalm 27 describes the type of faith and trust Abram has placed in God and His promise.
St. Paul also encourages the Philippians to transform themselves in the Christian life they live. St. Paul tells them that their citizenship is in heaven. They await their Savior, Jesus Christ, who will come in glory as our Savior from heaven. St. Paul tells the Philippians to imitate him and others in the community who live like he does. He models his own life after Jesus Christ so he appeals to the Philippians to follow his example. Conform your lives after Jesus by conforming your lives after fellow Catholics who also conform themselves to Jesus. We have many models to choose from. They’re called saints. That’s why we have them. That’s why we remember them. That’s why we venerate them. That’s why we must imitate them and their love for Jesus.
St. Paul also tells why he wants the Philippians to imitate him and conform themselves to Christ. They must stand firm to withstand those who are enemies to Christ. He does not want them to give way to their opponents, who attack and deride their Christian faith, and pursue their own worldly pleasures. St. Paul says those enemies hold themselves back from heaven and hasten their own doom. Then St. Paul says that when Jesus comes again on the last day, He will change our bodies and glorify and immortalize them. They/we will have bodies like Christ’s.
Jesus Himself is transformed, transfigured. It happens as He is praying, in front of Peter, James, and John. Jesus Himself trusts God His Father. Jesus will do His Father’s will, which is to suffer, to be rejected by God’s Chosen People, to die on a Cross, and to rise on the third day. Then Jesus will be glorified but only after His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. God the Father calls Jesus “my chosen Son” and then says to us, “listen to Him”(Luke 9:35). God the Father tells us who to listen to and who to imitate so that we are transformed and transfigured too: Jesus Christ, His Words, His teachings in His Church, this one, the Roman Catholic Church. Jesus must be followed just as the Israelites once followed Moses.
We take from this our own promise to obey Jesus and be transformed into images of Him, by Him. Why? For our salvation, of course. But also to remember who we are, and who we pledge our allegiance and love to. We do that to Jesus, by being here and by stating our belief in the creed we will pray and recite next.
February 12, 2017
October 23, 2016
October 2, 2016