Lent 2, 13 March 22
Hopefully we have seen something positive in this Holy Season of Lent - perhaps by our little self.
denials and by our taking on something a little extra for God and for our fellow human beings.
Sometimes we can get a bit bogged-down in our faith by what seems "Judgement", a harsh
sounding word, but it is so often we human beings who make the judgement against ourselves,
against others and even against Almighty God. Indeed, we are often much harsher than our
Heavenly Father who is all mercy. Whilst training for ordination at St. Stephen's House over half a
century ago the then Principal, Fr. Derek Allen, who was a very holy and kind person, with a hint of
naughtiness, was a great advocate of the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. Indeed, he
was Father Confessor to no less than two communities of nuns, one lot contemplative and the other
active. We students used to refer to it as "Father's Nun-Running". He used to tell us that the
Sacrament of Reconciliation must always be a "Ministry of Encouragement"
If we want encouragement today we have only to read and listen carefully to the three readings for
Lent 2. The Old Testament Lesson from Genesis 15 tells of God's Covenant with Abram whom he
brought out from Ur of the Chaldees in what is now Iraq and, likely, it would have been a city on the
Great River Euphrates. In return for his offering of the sacrifice that God had commanded, after a
somewhat disturbed and terror-filled night's deep sleep the Lord God made a covenant with Abram,
not yet called Abraham, in the words: 'To your descendants I give this land, from the wadi of Egypt
to the Great River. The Great River is, of course the Euphrates so God is showing a bright future for
his Chosen People, but the verses from chapter 15, 13 -16, omitted today, tell of slavery in Egypt!!!
Not all honey we might say. Even so the picture overall is both encouraging and looking forward.
The Responsorial Psalm also takes up, if you like, the theme of ENCOURAGEMENT coupled with
HOPE in the wonderful refrain which pertains to us all, "The Lord is my light and my help."
Today's Gospel reading from St. Luke 9 verses 28-36 tells of Our Lord taking three of the first four
chosen of his apostles up the mountain. It is almost certain by its spectacular situation that it was
Mount Tabor though the name is not mentioned. It is a steep mountain just 2000 feet above sea
level, rising from north east end of the Valley of Jezreel, also known as Megiddo, which is a little way
below sea level. Getting to the top is an arduous task whether on foot, on a donkey or in a four-
wheel drive vehicle. From the top of Mt. Tabor, on a clear day, the views are spectacular looking
over the lush vegetation and vineyards of the Valley of Jezreel or west to the Mediterranean coat,
north towards Lebanon or the Golan Heights. Spectacular as the setting might be it is not nearly so
spectacular as what Peter and James and John witnessed. Uniquely they were given a revelation of
Our Lord Jesus Christ in all His glory as he was transfigured before them. From what St. Luke tells us
the three were sleepy, not surprising after the hard yet exhilarating walk that they had endured
getting up the mountain, but yet they remained awake, seeing Jesus not only glorified but joined by
Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about his passing from this world and what he was to
accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter seems to go into panic mode for as Moses and Elijah appear to be leaving the company of
Jesus he says to Jesus, 'Master, it is good for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you,
one for Moses, and one for Elijah. At that point they were enveloped in cloud and the disciples
were afraid and from within the cloud came the voice of God the Father saying, This is my Son, the
Chosen One. Listen to him. The words almost identical to the voice of the Father at the moment
Jesus had been baptised in the River Jordan and marking, as it were, the completion of Our Lord’s ministry in Galilee and marking the beginning of his last journey up to Jerusalem for that final week
that included his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, his teaching in the Temple, the
Last Supper with the Twelve, his betrayal, trials, crucifixion and burial only to be raised gloriously
from the tomb on the first day of the week following.
We are told that Peter and James and John kept silent about the Lord's transfiguration until after He
had risen from the dead. After the voice of the Father had spoken the three found Jesus alone
looking his usual self. In St. Matthew's Gospel in chapter 17, in his account of the transfiguration
story, we find Jesus very pointedly commanding Peter and James and John, as they were coming
down the mountain, 'Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from
What the three had witnessed was indeed a foretaste of Heaven. We too with Peter and James and
John and all who have been faithful to Jesus, and those who prepared the way for Jesus, are to be
transfigured! We likewise are called to share the glory of the Risen and Ascended Jesus! How can
we not marvel and be filled with Christian Hope when we ponder on the story of the Lord's
It is these same three who accompany Jesus at the raising of Jairus's daughter and these same three
who were with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and were asked to pray with/for him but fell
asleep! However, all three were great examples of faithfulness - St. Peter being the leader who
was himself to be crucified on14th October AD64 in Rome at Nero's Circus, St. James the Great,
brother of St. John the Evangelist was Bishop in Jerusalem and beheaded by order of King Herod
Agrippa in AD 44, the first of the Twelve to suffer martyrdom. St. John the Evangelist, the brother of
St. James the Great was the only one of the Twelve to die naturally in the year AD100 in Ephesus in
modern day Turkey. At Our Lord's Crucifixion Mary the Mother of Jesus was commended to the
care of St. John and we are told that from that moment St. John took her into his own home.
Perhaps we need to remind ourselves too that this took place just a couple of weeks or so after the
Lord's Transfiguration on Mount Tabor!
Following on from the Covenant relationship established by God with Abram in Genesis 15 which we
heard earlier and the significance of the Lord's Transfiguration we can readily take to heart those
words from St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians 3, verse 20 and 21: For us, our homeland is in heaven,
and from heaven comes the saviour we are walting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transtigure
these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body..
The words of scripture which we have heard this morning are a real encouragement and sustenance
for us to continue the pilgrim journey of Lent so that we might look forward with joy to celebrating
the Lord's Resurrection on Easter Day.