Make Lent a time to focus on Jesus, be still, and ‘listen to him’

By: By Sharon Priester

Second Sunday of Lent, Feb. 28

Genesis 15:5-12,17-18; Psalm 27:1,7-8,8-9,13-14; Philippians 3:17 — 4:1; Luke 9:28b-36

Last week we heard how Jesus, after being led to the desert by the Holy Spirit, rebuked the temptations of the devil and did not fail the tests of his faith in and fidelity to God. This week the Gospel focuses on the transfiguration.

According to Luke, “Jesus . . . went up the mountain to pray,” taking with him Peter, John and James. I found it interesting that these three men were also the first called to be his disciples. (Luke 5:1-11) As they pray with Jesus, they become witnesses to the transfiguration of Christ and his conversation with Moses and Elijah, representatives of Old Testament law and the prophets.

Moses and Elijah “appeared in glory and spoke of his (Jesus’) exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” Moses led the Israelites in their exodus from pharaoh’s slavery to freedom in the land of milk and honey. Now, Jesus, in the days ahead in Jerusalem, will be leading his people in their exodus from slavery caused by sin to freedom in God’s kingdom as he dies upon the cross, is resurrected from the dead, and ascends into heaven.

Wanting to prepare a place for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter begins to speak to Jesus. But “a cloud came and cast a shadow over them” frightening Peter, John and James. Suddenly, a voice speaks to them, “This is my chosen Son, listen to him.”

During these frightening but glorious moments, “Jesus discloses his divine glory” and “reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to ‘enter into his glory.'” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 555)

During the time of the transfiguration, “The whole Trinity appeared: The Father in the voice, the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud.” (CCC, 555)

Trusting in God
Moses and Elijah, as well as Peter, James and John, were men who put their faith and trust in God and their hope in eternal life promised by God. Both the first and second readings this week point out others.

In the first reading, God announces to Abram that he shall have as many descendents as the stars in the sky. Abram, having faith in the Lord, follows God’s directions and offers sacrifice to God. At dark, he falls into a trance and is surrounded by “terrifying darkness.” A smoking fire pot and flaming torch appear, signifying the appearance of God, and pass between the sacrifices, a sign of God’s covenant with Abram: “To your descendents I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates.” (Genesis 15:18)

In the second reading, Paul, a faithful disciple of God, instructs the Philippians to conduct themselves according to the model they have seen in him and the other disciples rather than those who “conduct themselves as the enemies of the cross of Christ.” He tells them that if each person follows Christ, they will have the opportunity to share in the resurrection of Christ.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us “the transfiguration ‘is the sacrament of the second regeneration;’ our own resurrection.” (CCC, 556) It also says the transfiguration of Christ gives an idea of the glorious coming of Christ when “He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him to bring all things into subjection to himself.”

Reinforcing our hope
As we continue to pray, fast and give alms during this Lenten season, each of these readings will be reinforcing our hope and desire for eternal life in the kingdom of God. Let us be more like Paul, Peter, James and John, who understood that Jesus was God’s “chosen Son” and listened to him even in times of doubt and fear.

Take time to reflect on how you can be still and “listen to him” each day. Make it point to share your faith and trust in God and your love of him with others.

In the days ahead, doubts and fears may arise. Remember the words of Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.”

Sharon Priester is one of six regional directors of religious education working with the diocesan Office of Catechetics and serves the Bloomington and Lincoln vicariates of the Diocese of Peoria. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington. Contact her at dspriest@msn.com.

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