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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Reflection/Homily: Second (2nd) Sunday of Lent Year C

Theme: Listening to Jesus

In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 9:28-36) Jesus went up to the mountain to pray with three of his disciples. Within the course of the prayer, Moses and Elijah appeared and Jesus was bodily transfigured into glory as his face and clothe were as dazzling as the sun. Rapt in this glorious ecstasy, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He did not even consider their own accommodation. All he wanted was to remain there experiencing the glory of God.

But as Peter spoke, something dramatic happened before Jesus could reply. Suddenly, a cloud came and covered them with shadow and as the disciples were trying to understand what was going on, a voice spoke and said “This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.” Immediately, the two guests (Moses and Elijah) left and Jesus was found alone. In other words, we can say that immediately the voice finished speaking, the whole glorious scene ended waiting for the time the disciples would experience this beatific vision permanently.

The voice which spoke in the cloud could be said to have provided an answer to the request Peter made. Peter wanted to remain there forever but the voice said “… Listen to him (Jesus)”. That means that for them to experience the beatific vision in reality, they have to listen to Jesus. If we were in Peter’s shoes, we would have requested for a permanent experience as Peter did but the voice is still offering us the same answer as a condition: we should listen to Jesus. 

Within this period of lent, the Church also invites us to listen to Jesus and one of the things we will hear him say is “Take your cross and follow me”. The cross might frighten us a little bit but the gospel reading assures us that if we listen to Jesus and die with him now, we shall also rise with him in glory at Easter and beyond. The apostles didn’t find it easy listening and following Jesus but today, they are experiencing in totality the Glory that was revealed to them in part as a foretaste.

To listen to Jesus therefore involves not just reading or hearing the words of the Bible but perfect obedience to the words of the Bible (the Word of God). In Jesus, the entire Bible is fulfilled. He is the fulfilment of the Law and all Old Testament prophecies as he said in Matthew 5:7. He is the highest point of God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible. To concretise this, Moses and Elijah representing two sections of the Old Testament (The law and the Prophets) appeared with Jesus who is the symbol of the New Testament. 

For us Christians, what this means for us is that we have to focus on God’s Word if we really want to experience the beatific vision of God in heaven. The second reading (Phil 3:17-4:1) assures us that one of the great promises of God is to transform us totally. That is why Jesus’ transfiguration becomes a foretaste of our own transfiguration in heaven. This is because the Scripture promises us that when Christ appears, we shall be like him because we shall see Him as He really is (1 John 3:2).

Do you want to be like Christ? Then you have to listen to him. We can listen to Christ in the voice of that early morning preacher who we think disturbs us with his repentance message. We can listen to Christ in the voice of the poor begging us to show them love. We can listen to Christ in the voice of those crying for justice. We can listen to Christ in the teachings of the Church. We can also listen to Christ in the meditative reading of the Sacred Scriptures and in personal prayer.

Therefore beloved friends, let us be sure that God can never abandon His promises. Let us make effort to listen to his beloved Son and be sure that on the last day, our obedience to his voice will merit us our salvation. We saw in the first reading (Gen 15:5-12, 17-18) that Abram’s obedience to God won him and his descendants the Promised Land. So our obedience will win us not just a temporal promised land here on earth but a permanent promised land there in heaven. God loves you.

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