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A brief word on today’s 1st Reading.  I said last week that the first readings of Lent in the B Cycle all deal with the covenants God has made with humankind.  Last week, it was the covenant with Noah, and the entire human race, not to destroy the world by flood.  Today’s covenant relationship is the one god established with Abraham.  God has put Abraham to the test and Abraham has come through with flying colors.

For this. God has designated Abraham, and his descendants, as those people through whom He will bless the entire world.  We know those people to be the Jewish people, the Chosen people.  Abraham is their “father in faith,” but he is ours as well, for from him has come Jesus, through whom God’s blessings and grace will flow in abundance. 

 We continue on our Lenten journey.  Every 1st Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading always relates the Temptation in the Desert.  Whether from Matthew, Mark or Luke, the Gospels on that 1st Sunday call us to enter into the Lenten season facing the devil and all the temptations he throws at us, so that we may use this time to reject him and his works and live more faithfully the Christian calling that is ours.

 In a similar fashion, the 2nd Sunday of Lent always presents to us the account of the Transfiguration, Jesus’ appearing in glory, accompanied by Moses and Elijah, before the three chosen disciples, Peter, James and John.  While some will maintain that this is actually a post-resurrection experience, the author of 2nd Peter clearly presents it as happening during Jesus’ lifetime.  It comes at a moment when He has first told them that He would suffer and be put to death.  It comes as an invitation to believe in Him even though the expectations which the disciples have of Him would not be fulfilled as they had hoped.  The invitation to listen to Him comes directly from the Father.  At His baptism, Jesus alone hears the words that the Father is well pleased in Him; at the Transfiguration, the disciples hear the words that they should listen to what He is telling them.

 Several elements in the account give us some clues as to why it always appears as the focus of reflection for this 2nd Sunday of Lent.  As stated, it follows the first prediction of the Passion, after which Peter “rebuked” Him, for which Peter received his own rebuke.  The transfiguration of Jesus, itself, is both the “breaking through” of Who Jesus really is, the Son of God, the eye-catching assertion Mark makes within the first twelve words of his Gospel, not made that early by another other evangelist and the foreshadowing of what Jesus will clearly be at His Resurrection.  In light of this transfiguration, Jesus is overshadowed by a cloud, the classic Old Testament sign of the Presence of God, and out of the cloud comes the Voice, “listen to Him,” something Peter was unwilling to do only a few days prior. 

 There is considerable significance in the placement of this Gospel on the 2nd Sunday of Lent.  We could ask ourselves, after only one week, how are things going?  Have we faced the “adversary,” as Jesus did last week?  Did we win or lose?  Have we faced our sins, head-on and said no, or have we fallen already?  Whatever the state of our Lenten resolve, or of our Lenten struggle, this Gospel is offered to us as an encouragement, and a warning.  It is an encouragement because it reminds us of the ultimate goal of our journey through Lent, and our journey through life – it is to reach the Kingdom, to be found in the company of Jesus as this earthly journey ends so that He may lead us into Paradise.  We can never forget that as much as we are challenged to build the Kingdom here on earth, it is that Eternal Kingdom on which we must keep our focus, and keeping our focus on it should be the spur that harnesses our spiritual energy to be more faithful on our journey. 

 And the warning.  The Voice makes it clear.  The Father is pleased in the Son, in His readiness to walk the way of the Passion and in His willingness to offer Himself for us, and the Father’s willingness to accept that offering, unlike the Father’s desire to spare Abraham that same path in the offering of his son, Isaac (in the 1st Reading).  And so the Voice says, “Listen to Him.”  To listen to Him is to take up the struggle against Evil, both in our personal lives and the life of the world.  No true believer can fall before this challenge.  The stakes are too high.  Lent is the time to “listen to Him.”

God bless,  
Fr. Ron  

 PS.  Congratulations to the Boys CYO Varsity Basketball Team which won the league championship last Tuesday evening.  This was an especially noteworthy accomplishment because this team has won the championship every one of the four years they’ve played high school CYO ball.  They are, as it were, a “4-peat.”  As I was watching them take a team picture afterward, that scene from “Hoosiers” came to my mind, of that championship picture hanging in the gym at Hickory High.  Maybe we should do that in our gym.  I doubt any team in the future will challenge this record.  Well done, guys. 

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Mass Schedule

Weekend Liturgies
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday
8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,
3 p.m. (Spanish), 6:30 p.m.
Weekday Liturgies
Monday thru Friday,
6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m.,
and 12 noon
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. only
Holy Days
Eve: 7:30pm (anticipated)
6:30am, 8:30am, and 12noon 

 

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