Sunday, 13 March 2022 : Second Sunday of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the Second Sunday in the season of Lent, reminding us that it has been about ten days now since the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Today as we listened and remembered the words of the Sacred Scriptures, all of us are called and reminded by God to look upon what it is that each and every one of us are expected to do as Christians, as God’s followers and people. We are all the children of God and therefore our way of life ought to be a reflection of God’s ways and truth.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Genesis, of the moment when God made His Covenant with Abram, the one who would later be known as Abraham, the father of many nations, and progenitor of the Israelites. God had chosen Abram to be the one with whom He would make a new Covenant with His people, with mankind, as He had seen in Abram the true and genuine faith that is unparalleled and unmatched by anyone else, the desire to love God and to obey Him and His Law wholeheartedly.

Abram was then already a man of relatively advanced age, with a barren wife, Sarai and no son or any child at all. He had answered God’s call in following Him to the land that He had shown him, the land of Canaan, uprooting himself from the land of his forefathers and leaving his family behind to follow God. God then made this Covenant with Abram, promising him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on earth. At that moment, Abram was transformed into Abraham, the change in name signifying this new status as the progenitor of God’s chosen people. His wife, Sarai, also then changed her name to Sarah.

Abraham trusted in the Lord and followed Him wholeheartedly, devoting his life to God and followed wherever the Lord led him to go. He became the father of Isaac and Ishmael, and through them, became the father of innumerable nations to this day. Not only that, but because of the Covenant that God had made with him, his faith and righteousness, Abraham has also become our father in faith as well. He is our role model in faith and our inspiration, as the one whom we can look upon for inspiration for our own path in life.

In our second reading passage today, the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians relate to us that as Christians, all of us are called to be like Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, and remember that we are truly called to the glory of heaven, our ultimate destination in life. All of us are truly the citizens of Heaven, God’s beloved ones who have always been intended for greatness and eternity of happiness, perfection and glory with God, our most loving Father and Creator. And because of this, our attitudes and way of life have to reflect this nature, our true nature that is righteousness, justice and full of Christian virtues.

In the Gospel today that is why we heard the reading of the account of the Transfiguration of the Lord, in which we heard of how the Lord was glorified and revealed His true divine nature to His three disciples, Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor. The Lord revealed that He was indeed not just the Son of Man, but also the Son of God, the two natures of Divinity and Humanity distinct and yet inseparable in His one Person, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world and the Lord of all. And by Him sharing in our humanity, the Lord wants to show us that we too ought to share in this glory to come.

Essentially, through His Transfiguration, the Lord has shown us what our future state is going to be, when our bodies and existences are glorified much in the same way as the Lord has been glorified. It is reminiscent of what will happen when at the end times, our bodies will be reunited with our souls, to live perfectly with God forever in a blissful eternal existence, full of grace and happiness. This is what the Lord has always intended to us, for us to live happily ever after with Him, in His presence, and why He created us all in the first place.

Unfortunately, mankind succumbed to the temptations of the devil and their desires, and they allowed those desires and temptations to cloud their judgment, leading them to disobey God, His Law and commandments. And because of sin, we have been defiled and corrupted, and our glorified and perfect nature has been tarnished. When God created us mankind, He never intended for us to suffer in this world, and if we recall the Book of Genesis, all that God had created and made were all perfect and all good, including us mankind, made in image and likeness of God Himself, the most beloved of all His creations.

It was by our conscious rejection of God’s love and truth that we have ended up in this fallen state, losing our perfection and true nature due to sin. And through sin we have been separated from God and we have to endure these sufferings in the world because we have not yet fully reconciled ourselves with God. And yet, God gave us His only Son, to be our Saviour. Through Him, not only that He gave us hope through His Transfiguration, reminding us of who we truly and actually are, but He also took it upon Himself to offer on our behalf, during His Passion and death, the most worthy offering for our salvation.

We are reminded that our true nature is to reflect the light of Christ within us and to show forth the truth about that nature, to all the people. We are all called to overcome the temptations of sin, the corruptions of those wickedness and the allures of evil. We are all called to resist those temptations and rediscover the light within us, the light of Christ long hidden by the darkness of sin and evil. We are all called to uncover these truth about our nature, by our pious observance of Lent.

In our observance of this Lenten season, when we fast and abstain, from meat or from any other of our usual pleasures in life, we are all called to turn away from our desires and the darkness of our world, turning towards the light of God, following the examples of our forefather, Abraham in his faith and dedication to the Lord, as well as our many other holy predecessors who have gone before us, the glorious saints and martyrs, who even now enjoy the beatific vision and experience of Heaven, while waiting for the final Day of Judgment, the end of time. We are reminded through the Transfiguration of the Lord in our Gospel today, that we too will enjoy this one day, should we remain faithful and committed to the Lord, to the very end.

God has made a New and Eternal Covenant with us through Jesus Christ, His Son, Who gave His life, poured our His Most Precious Blood and broken His Most Precious Body on the Cross, to be the Mediator of this New and everlasting Covenant, as the One through Whom all of us can finally be reconciled fully with God. By His suffering and death, He has brought us to share in His humanity, freeing us from the tyranny of sin and death, as by His glorious Resurrection He has unlocked the gates of Heaven to us. Through Him we have been given the sure means of coming free from our fallen state and to be restored to our graceful existence as God had always intended.

Now, the question is, are we all willing to make the sacrifices for this to happen? Are we all willing to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly with faith from now on, and rejecting the temptations of the world and the corruption of sin? To be Christians we are never called to remain idle in life, but instead we have to always be ever active in each and every moments, to be ever closer to God, to reflect His light and truth, His ways and love in our lives, to be righteous and just, virtuous and good in all things just as He is all good and virtuous, perfect and full of love. And we can show this through our actions, by being more generous with our love and giving for others.

Let us all therefore seek the Lord with a renewed faith, with contrite heart full of desire to be forgiven from our many faults and sins. Let us draw ever closer to God and put our trust more in Him, be ever more generous in showing our tender care and love, especially to the less fortunate, to those who are unloved and with no one to care for them, those who are oppressed and ostracised. Let us do our best as Christians to reach out to them, just as Our Lord Himself has reached out to us first, we wretched sinners deserving not of God’s grace and love, and yet He has always loved us without fail. He reestablished and renewed the Covenant He had made with us, because He never ceased to love us, and neither should we cease to love Him.

May the Lord continue to awaken in us the love that each and every one of us ought to have for Him, strengthening our resolve and courage to walk down His path despite the challenges and trials that we may have to face as His disciples. May God bless all of our good works and our Lenten observances, that they may not be just spiritually beneficial to us, but also that they may become great inspirations for our fellow brothers and sisters, to follow us together in our journey towards God and His salvation. Amen.

Sunday, 13 March 2022 : Second Sunday of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 9 : 28b-36

At that time, Jesus took Peter, John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And while He was praying, the aspect of His face was changed, and His clothing became dazzling white. Two men were taking with Jesus : Moses and Elijah. Appearing in the glory of heaven, Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about His departure from this life, which was to take place in Jerusalem.

Peter and His companions had fallen asleep; but they awoke suddenly, and they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. As Moses and Elijah were about to leave, Peter – not knowing what to say – said to Jesus, “Master, how good it is for us to be here! Let us make three tents, one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

And no sooner had he spoken, than a cloud appeared and covered them; and the disciples were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then these words came from the cloud, “This is My Son, My Beloved, listen to Him.” And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was there alone. The disciples kept this to themselves at the time, telling no one of anything they had seen.

Sunday, 13 March 2022 : Second Sunday of Lent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Philippians 3 : 17 – Philippians 4 : 1

Unite in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and look at those who walk in our way of life. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. I have said it to you many times, and now I repeat it with tears : they are heading for ruin; their belly is their god and they feel proud of what should be their shame. They only think of earthly things.

For us, our citizenship is in heaven, from where we await the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord. He will transfigure our lowly body, making it like His own Body, radiant in Glory, through the power which is His to submit everything to Himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, you my glory and crown, be steadfast in the Lord.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Philippians 3 : 20 – Philippians 4 : 1

For us, our citizenship is in heaven, from where we await the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord. He will transfigure our lowly body, making it like His own Body, radiant in Glory, through the power which is His to submit everything to Himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, you my glory and crown, be steadfast in the Lord.

Sunday, 13 March 2022 : Second Sunday of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 26 : 1, 7-8a, 8b-9abc, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

Hear my voice when I call, o Lord, have mercy on me and answer. My heart says to You, “I seek Your face, o Lord.”

Do not hide Your face from me nor turn away Your servant in anger. You are my Protector, do not reject me.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Sunday, 13 March 2022 : Second Sunday of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 15 : 5-12, 17-18

Then YHVH brought Abram outside and said to him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that.”

Abram believed YHVH Who, because of this, held him to be an upright man. And He said, “I am YHVH Who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” Then Abram asked, “My Lord, how am I to know that it shall be mine?”

YHVH replied, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtle dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these animals, cut them in two, and laid each half facing its other half, but he did not cut the birds in half. The birds of prey came down upon them, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep came over Abram, and a dreadful darkness took hold of him.

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch passed between the halves of the victims. On that day YHVH made a Covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this country from the river of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.”