February 21, 2016 — Second Sunday of Lent
We are surrounded by examples of stewardship — in our own families, in our neighborhoods, in our parish families, and certainly in the world. However, some of those examples come to us through Holy Scripture. We may have an intellectual understanding of what Lent is all about, and we may even appreciate what we are supposed to be doing to prepare for Easter. In today’s readings we find the examples and the models we should be following.
The First Reading comes to us from the Book of Genesis. It relates how God reminded Abram of the promises made to him. God offers us reminders all the time of the promises He makes to us as well. God knows we need to be reminded. Many times we have reflected how important it is to trust in the Lord. This reading shows how Abram still had doubts. We, too, may share those doubts when it comes to the Lord’s promises. Abram and God make a divine covenant. We have a divine covenant with God also. It begins with our Baptism.
Most of us know that St. Paul is an excellent example of stewardship for us. In his letter to the Philippians, from which our Second Reading is drawn, Paul invites us to be imitators of him, but he also points out that there are many others to whom we can look to see how we should live: “Observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.” During this Lenten season it is a good time for us to identify those around us who live lives of faith and sacrifice and love, and then to attempt to do something in our lives which is similar.
Paul points out that we are citizens of heaven. That may be a difficult concept for us because that means we are not citizens of earth, but aliens here. Nevertheless, that is exactly the case for us as Christians, especially as we prepare for Christ’s Resurrection His redemption of us. Were you aware that Caesars, the rulers of the Roman Empire, were also referred to as Lords and Saviors. Paul is very careful to make it clear to us that as citizens of Heaven rather than of something like the Roman Empire, we have but one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That, too, should be part of our reflections during Lent.
Finally, our Gospel Reading recounts Christ’s Transfiguration. Our Catholic Catechism explains the Transfiguration in this way: “Christ’s Transfiguration aims at strengthening the apostles’ faith in anticipation of His Passion: the ascent into the mountains prepares for the ascent to Calvary. Christ, Head of the Church, manifests what His Body contains and radiates the sacraments: ‘the hope of glory’.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 568).
Christ’s divinity, His Transfiguration, is proclaimed to catechumens and baptized alike. St. Thomas Aquinas stated in his Summa Theologiae “At His transfiguration Christ showed His disciples the splendor of His beauty, to which He will shape and color those who are His. He will reform our lowness configured to the Body of His glory.”
As significant as the Transfiguration was and is, that is exactly the basic point of this Gospel and all of our readings for today: each of us is called to conversion. We, too, must reach an understanding that what we do now, what we prepare for now, and how we live now, is all a prelude to something so glorious it is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.