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A Faith Stronger Than Death: Reflection on the Second Sunday of Lent

First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4

Psalm: Psalm 32(33):4-5, 18-20, 22

Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8-10

Gospel Acclamation: Matthew 17:5

Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

How many times have we or others said, perhaps in prayer or through a song, “Lord, I want to see your face?” This is exactly what Jesus allows St Peter, St James, and St John to do in this Sunday’s Gospel. St Paul says that Jesus is the image/face of God in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and, in this Sunday’s Gospel, His glorious face is revealed to a few!

This event changed the lives of these men. St Peter and St James even wrote about it in their biblical books. In 2 Peter 1:17-18 St Peter writes, “For when He received honour and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain.” And in John 1:14, St John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father” (emphasis mine).

On the Mount of Transfiguration (traditionally held to be Mount Tabor), Jesus appeared in His glory in between Moses and Elijah. Moses, of course, appears as representative of the Mosaic Law and Elijah appears as representative of the prophets. Jesus shining in between them is representative of fulfilling both the law and the prophets — He is the culmination of both. Recall what He Himself says in Matthew 5:17; “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them” (emphasis mine).

Another reason for the Transfiguration and the revealing of His glory to three of His Apostles, is that He was trying to give them a “down-payment” of faith before being crucified and seeming like He was a terrible failure (this is what God’s been doing all throughout salvation history). It’s not that Jesus was worried of being thought a failure, but rather that He wanted for His Apostles what God has always wanted since the Garden of Eden: A faith stronger than death. The Transfiguration is a parallel of the crucifixion. Jesus was trying to show this to them as if to say, regarding the crucifixion, “Yes. This is the plan. I know it looks bad. But I will come again in glory as I showed at the Transfiguration!” Consider the image below to know what I mean. This is something I put together during my time at university.

A faith stronger than death is exactly what God saw that Abram could have and God sought him out to be the father of the line that would bring Israel the messiah, Jesus Christ. We see the beginning of God’s encounter with Abram in our First Reading this Sunday. God reveals Himself to Abram after eyeing him out to be the right guy and seeks to make a covenant with Abram. Of course, Abram doesn’t yet know much about this God and so God had to promise Abram a few things that might make the deal sweeter: “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing. / ‘I will bless those who bless you: / I will curse those who slight you. / All the tribes of the earth / shall bless themselves by you.’ / So Abram went as the Lord told him.” Who wouldn’t, right!

You and I know, however, that that’s not the whole story! Abram, now with his name changed by God to “Abraham,” which means “Father of many nations,” is asked to sacrifice his only-begotten son (pre-jà-vu! See John 3:16), Isaac. Of course, God didn’t let him go through with it. It was merely a foreshadowing of what God would do for us with His own Son! But Abraham certainly did show that he had a faith that was stronger than death, that God could very easily raise up descendants for Him according to the promise that God made to him, no matter how much trouble Abraham and Sarah had gone through to finally conceive Isaac.

This is the faith that Jesus calls us too. It’s even easier for us because we have been given the promise and proof of Christ’s own resurrection! He proved it! The grace to believe this is what St Paul speaks of in the Second Reading. It was given to us from before the beginning of time.

The Eucharist is the re-entering into the mystery of the crucifixion of Jesus. When we participate at the table of the Lord, we die and rise to new life. Sin is destroyed and light shines forth, “and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5)! As St Paul says and as we say so often in Mass, “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death O Lord, until you come again!” Why proclaim the death of the Lord? Because by doing so we proclaim that death is destroyed and has no hold of we who carry our cross daily with the Lord. La muerte no puede con nosotros!

Let us repeat the words of this Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm with great joy, with a faith that is stronger than death and that constantly seeks the face of Christ: “May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” Repeat it often.

Viva Cristo Rey!

See you next week on Seeking the Word!

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