2nd Sunday of Lent Year C
Theme of the week: Jesus is the fulfilment of Old Testament promises. We are challenged to look beyond our earthly pursuits and our earthly trials; and look to heaven for our final fulfilment.
The First Reading started by Abraham questioning God’s promise to him, “How am I to know that I shall possess it [the promised land]?” (verse So God made Abraham a solemn pact, a covenant. In Jewish tradition, when two parties make a covenant, they brought animals, cut them in half and walk between the two halves as they enter into agreement. The severed animals signify the fate of a party if it breaks the covenant. In the First Reading, God made such a solemn agreement with Abraham. Except in this case, God was the unilateral party making the promises, hence only God (signified by the furnace and the firebrand) walked between the severed animals.
The Gospel describes the episode of the transfiguration, where Jesus was visited by Moses and Elijah. The transfiguration is recorded in all of three synoptic Gospels of Matthew (17:1-8), Mark (9:2-8) and Luke (9:28-36); and is read on the second week of Lent for all three years of A, B and C.
The story of transfiguration conveys three important messages to us:
- Firstly, it emphasises the immensity of God’s sacrifice. Moses represents the Laws and Elijah represents the Prophecies. With Moses and Elijah appearing with Jesus, it signifies Jesus being the fulfilment of both the Laws and the Prophecies. To emphasise this point, the story ended with Moses and Elijah disappearing, leaving Jesus as the only one standing. Jesus is God. It is only through the sacrifice of God Himself, that all of humankind may be saved.
- Secondly, the transfiguration occurred at a time when Jesus was about to face his gruesome death. It is in this context that God sent Moses and Elijah to strengthen him. In times of trials, we need to remember the story, and pray to God to send his Holy Spirit to strengthen us. As Paul said in 1 Cor 10:13, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
- We were told that Peter in his ignorance (Luke 9:33, Mk 9:6) proposed to build three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah respectively. How ignorant he was! For to do so would be putting Jesus on par with Moses and Elijah, which is clearly not the proper thing to do. Then, as if to rebuke Peter, we hear God proclaiming Jesus to be his Son and that we should listen to Him (Matthew 17:5, Luke 9:35, Mark 9:7) The Gospel teaches us to recognise Jesus as God and put Him before all else. With Jesus about to face his eventual death and glorification, he is laying a path for us to follow, so that like him, we may attain glorification through the cross. There is no resurrection without death; and no glorification without suffering.
The Second Reading examines our earthly existence in the context of God’s heavenly promise to us. The passage explains that even as we live on earth, we belong to heaven. As such, as much as we need to fulfil our earthly needs of food, water and creature comfort, we must not let our earthly pursuits distract us from our heavenly goals. In the context of the transfiguration, the passage encourages us to always look towards heaven, even in the midst of our earthly trials, for it is in heaven where our final fulfilment lies. May our Lenten journey bring us closer to our heavenly goal. Amen.