Sunday, 8 March 2020 : Second Sunday of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the second one in the season of Lent, we are all called to listen to God’s will and heed His calling. Indeed, today’s Scripture readings are focused on one important aspect of our faith and our lives, and that is to respond and answer God’s call in our lives. God has called all of us His people to follow Him just as He has called many of our predecessors in the past, and for those who followed Him and walked in His path, God would bless them and guide them to righteousness.

In our first reading today, we heard of the Lord’s calling of a man named Abram from the land of Ur in southern part of Mesopotamia in what is today southern Iraq. This man seemed to appear from nowhere, suddenly making its appearance in the Scripture in the Book of Genesis. But this was the man whom God had called and chosen, for God Who knows the heart and mind can see that Abram had faith in Him and was a righteous and obedient person.

And God called Abram to follow Him with the promises that He swore before him, that He would make Abram to be a great nation, blessed and presented by the grace of God. God promised that the name of Abram would be blessed and great, and He would bless all those who bless him and curse all those who curse him. Such were the promises that God had given to Abram, and Abram believed in God fully and completely, leaving his ancestral family and lands behind, and walked with God to the land of Canaan.

God called Abram to an unknown wilderness and an uncertainty. Abram had a lot of property, amazing connections and things he definitely enjoyed in his ancestral homeland in Ur. But Abram chose trust in God and left his past behind him, and walked with Him to the land which God promised that He would give to him and his descendants. Abram trusted and had faith in God, committed himself and his descendants to a Covenant which God would make and seal with him.

The Covenant that God made with Abram, who was then known as Abraham, had been renewed again and again, and Abraham became the father of many nations as God has promised. Through his sons Isaac and Ishmael, many nations including the Israelites called Abraham as their father and ancestor, and ultimately, by the last renewal of the Covenant by none other than Christ Himself, all of us who believe in Christ, also call Abraham our father, as our father in faith. For like us who answer God’s call, Abraham was the first to respond to that call, and we follow in his footsteps.

In our second reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy who reminded us as Christians again about what our Christian calling is all about. God has called on all of us through Christ to serve Him and to be witnesses of His truth and His Gospels. We are all called to holiness to serve the Lord through obedience to His Law and to His will and commandments, and to listen to what He has called and taught us to do, as we heard in our Gospel passage today on the account of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.

Through the occasion of the Transfiguration at Mount Tabor mentioned in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord Jesus was glorified and appeared before three of His disciples, St. Peter, St. James and St. John in His fullness of glory and divinity, together with Moses and Elijah, essentially God has revealed through them to us, that by sending Jesus Christ, God’s own beloved Son into this world, He has called us all yet once again, to follow Him and to forge that new and everlasting Covenant with us.

It was revealed at the moment of the Transfiguration that Christ was not just merely a Man, but also the Son of God. In the person of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world or the Messiah, was two distinct yet inseparable natures of Man and Divine, through which Christ would then seal and make a new Covenant with all of us that will last forever. This refers to the Covenant that He made through His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross. By this Covenant, all of us are made to be sons and daughters of God, and we are made sharers of God’s inheritance and glory.

What then happened at the Transfiguration and what is its significance for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? This is where then we need to pay attention to how the Transfiguration of the Lord revealed to us what we ought to do as Christians, in how we ought to be living our lives and our faith from now on. In that occasion, we heard how St. Peter suggested to the Lord Jesus that they ought to build three tents for Him, for Moses and Elijah, reason being that it was so wonderful and glorious to be up there in the mountain in the sight and presence of God’s glory.

Certainly, the Lord was tempted by that offer, for He clearly knew what He was about to do in order to establish the New Covenant with all of us. He clearly knew that He had to suffer terribly, bear the burdens of our sins on His Cross, to be rejected and treated terribly and humiliated by His enemies, and finally to suffer and eventually die a most painful death as a condemned and humiliated criminal on the Cross for everyone to see. Who would not have wanted to avoid such a fate?

But the Lord resisted that temptation, just as He had resisted the three temptations of Satan mentioned in our Gospel passage from last Sunday’s readings. And God then came over all the three disciples, reminding them to listen to the One He had sent into this world to be its Saviour. Essentially, through this, God has called on His people again to trust in Him and to follow Him in the path that He has shown us and which He Himself had walked.

I refer to the fact that the Lord Jesus chose willingly to descend from Mount Tabor and leave behind His glorious moments there, and walking down, heading eventually towards Jerusalem where He was to suffer and die. We can see here a clear parallel between Abraham and Jesus, in how both chose to follow the path that God has presented to them, with Abraham following God and obeying Him as he journeyed and dwelled in the Promised Land, while the Lord Jesus obeyed His heavenly Father’s will, and fulfil the mission which He has been entrusted with, through the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now as I mentioned earlier, all of us have also been called to follow God and to obey His will. And looking from the examples I mentioned earlier, when we are called by God to follow Him, often the outlook and the path forward may seem to be uncertain and unknown to us, as compared to what we are now having in life. And the devil is always ready to strike at us, persuading and tempting us to stay put and not to follow the Lord, but instead to remain in our comfort zone.

During this season of Lent in particular, we are all called to reexamine our lives, how we have lived them thus far and think and discern of how we are going to proceed forward in life. Are we able to discern carefully what we are going to do with our lives from now on, brothers and sisters in Christ? God has called us to follow Him, but are we willing to put in the effort to follow Him and to put our trust in Him, in whichever directions that He is going to lead us to?

Let us all therefore make good use of this season of Lent, to detach ourselves from the excessive attachments we have to the many comforts in life, and to restrain ourselves from succumbing to our many desires, lusts, greed, ambition among other things that prevented us from truly living our lives as righteous and faithful Christians. Let us all spend more time with God, through prayer and through fasting and abstinence, that we may turn our attention and focus back towards Him and away from the temptations of this world.

Let us also be more generous and loving in our interactions with our fellow brothers and sisters, especially to all those who are marginalised, rejected by others, weak and poor, sick and dying. Let us all be more charitable and loving, following the examples that Our Lord Himself has shown and taught us. In doing so, we are doing what St. Paul had told us in his Epistle of our second reading today, to live our lives with holiness and to respond to God’s call with faith. For it is by showing love to one another that everyone may know that we are God’s beloved people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing to follow God more closely this season of Lent going forward? Are we able to make the commitment to change our way of life that from now on we will become more faithful, more trusting in God, more obedient to His will and more loving in all of our actions in life, first of all towards God and then towards our fellow brothers and sisters, particularly those who are in need of our help and love, our care and attention?

May the Lord, our loving Father and Creator, Who has shown us His eternal and infinite love through His gift of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ to be our Saviour, always be with us through the trials and difficult moments of our lives that we may always remain faithful in Him throughout our journey of faith, and that we may grow ever more faithful and loving towards Him with each and every passing moments in our lives. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.