March 5, 2023 — Second Sunday of Lent
GN 12:1-4A; PS 33:4-5, 18-20, 22; 2 TIM 1:8B-10; MT 17:1-9
Our readings for this second Sunday of Lent offer us, as Christian stewards, the motivation to continue our 40-day journey toward deeper holiness.
The first reading from the book of Genesis describes God’s call to Abram (who would later be called Abraham). God instructs Abram to leave his home and set out to a land that God had chosen for him. Abram’s response is an ancient example of good stewardship. Instead of clinging to his comfortable way of life, to the only home he has ever known, he recognizes that all he has is a gift from God, puts his trust in God, and obeys. And God rewards him saying, “I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”
To “be a blessing” is the true aim of a stewardship way of life. It is also an excellent way to live out the season of Lent. The sacrifices we take on, the spiritual disciplines we practice, and the extra acts of service we perform during this season — all give glory to God and transform our lives into a blessing for others.
St. Paul encourages us on this path in our second reading taken from his letter to Timothy. “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel…” adding this critical phrase, “with the strength that comes from God.” On our own, we are weak and inclined towards selfishness and comfort-seeking. Relying on God’s strength, however, we can persevere in the fight to attain holiness. Paul reminds us that we were made for this! “[God] saved us and called us to a holy life.”
To be “holy” means to be set apart for God. This means that our lives as Christian stewards will look different from those around us who do not know the Lord — but different in a way that is attractive, that draws them to the Lord as well. It is a way of life that is counter-cultural in our individualistic, “me first” day and age. The generous offering to God of our time, talent, and treasure at times can feel like the “hardship” Paul mentions in our second reading. But this way of life is a path to holiness.
Lest we grow weary on this path, our Gospel passage today, from Matthew, offers us a powerful image of the great God we serve. It is the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus when our Lord takes His key apostles up to a high mountain and reveals Himself in His true glory.
“He was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” And not only that but the voice of the Father was revealed to them with the words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
This revelation of the glory of God was so overwhelming to the apostles that they fell to the ground in fear when they saw Him this way. But our loving Savior is quick to reassure them to “Rise, and do not be afraid.”
As we continue our Lenten journey, let us take these two verses to heart:
- “Listen to Him”
- “Rise, and do not be afraid”
Let us rely on God’s strength to aid us in our spiritual disciplines as we move through Lent. We will arrive at Easter with deeper holiness, as a blessing to God and others — and as better stewards of all God’s gifts to us.