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2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B – Homily

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B
Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19 (9)
Romans 8:31b-34
Mark 9:2-10
February 25, 2018

I remember back almost twenty years ago before I started seminary.  I was preparing to do a Communion Service and was looking at the readings.  The gospel reading was the same as today, the story of the Transfiguration.

As I read it, I was deeply moved by the thought of seeing Jesus transfigured.  I knew that the presence of Elijah and Moses had to signify something important but I didn’t know what that was.

So, here I was deeply moved by this passage that I had to give a reflection on yet I had no idea what to say.  I did the only thing I could.  I read the footnotes in my Bible.  In those few sentences in the footnotes gave me the material I needed to preach.  That’s why it is important to have a Bible that includes footnotes!

Since then, I took seven classes on Scripture in seminary and earned a Master of Divinity degree.  I know a lot more but I still check the footnotes.

To understand the Transfiguration and why it happened at this point in the gospel, we need to look at the passages leading up to the Transfiguration.

Starting in Mark 8:27, we hear Jesus ask the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter responds, “You are the Messiah.”  Good for Peter for, indeed Jesus is the Messiah.

However, Peter and the others did not yet know what it really meant for Jesus to be the Messiah.  They expected an earthly king to defeat the Romans.  Jesus is king but not on earth but in Heaven.

Jesus knows they don’t understand this yet.  To help prepare them for what is to come, (beginning in verse 8:31), he told them for the first time of his coming Passion, how he will be rejected by the elders, killed, and rise on the third day.

Peter is astonished.  There is no way he is going to let Jesus be killed.  Peter, having just called Jesus the Messiah, rebukes him.  Amazing!  Jesus scolds Peter.

So, the disciples are now troubled by Jesus’ prediction of his Passion.  This doesn’t make sense to them and it isn’t what they expected.  They are greatly troubled by this.

Now we come to today’s passage.  Jesus goes off to pray.  Most often, when Jesus goes off to pray, he does so alone.  This time he takes Peter, James, and John up on the mountain with him.

Why?  Because he knows they are troubled by what he has said.  He also knows they will need reason for hope when his Passion begins.  He knows they need reassurance.

So, Jesus deliberately brings Peter, James, and John with him to allow them to see him transfigured.  He becomes dazzling white, white symbolizing purity.  They see Elijah there signifying that Jesus is the fulfillment of the what the prophets foretold.  Moses appears signifying that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.

Peter is amazed by this.  “He hardly knew what to say.”  He says, “Let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  Peter may not understand all that is happening but he knows it is an awesome experience and he wants it to last.

On top of all this, they hear the divine voice say, “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”  Jesus is not just “messiah”.  He is the Son of God!

Truly an awesome experience.  Peter, James, and John were pleased to have been there.  We are blessed that this experience of Jesus’ transfiguration has been writing down for us.

Experiences like this don’t last forever but they are always important to us.  They sustain us in the difficult times.  The Transfiguration is an important image for us as we look forward to eternal life where we too will see Jesus in his glory.

For me personally, this image of the Transfiguration is important in my prayers.  It ranks right up there with Jesus on the Cross.  Looking at the Crucifix symbolizes God’s love, that he sent his Son to redeem us.

It is our goal, our desire, to one day be in Heaven.  We are not there yet.  We still have work to do.  We need to prepare ourselves.  This means following Jesus.  This means giving our whole lives over to him.  This means letting Jesus change us.

Is there anything we are holding back on?  Is there something we don’t want to give up?

We need to be willing to give up everything for Jesus.  I mean everything.  Look at our first reading.  Abraham had waited a long time for a son.  Now that he has Isaac as his son, God tells him to offer Isaac as a holocaust, a sacrifice.

I’m never sure what is more amazing, that God tells Abraham to do this or that Abraham is willing to do it.  Yet, Abraham has absolute faith in God.  He holds nothing back.

When we suffer, we turn to God for help.  We rely on the images of the Transfiguration and the Cross to give us hope.  Is there anything you are holding back on?  Are you ready to let Jesus change you entirely?

 

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