Reflections on the Readings
Second Sunday of Lent - March 8, 2009, Year B
By Dennis Hankins
Genesis 22:1-2, 9a 10-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10, 15-19
Romans 8: 31b-34
Theme: A Vision of Jesus
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." - Jesus
During the dazzling experience of the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John were speechless. Well, almost speechless. Peter overcome by the moment expressed a desire to preserve the moment by building three booths; one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
We are told by Luke that Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in His Transfiguration to discuss His soon departure or exodus. The fullness of redemption was drawing near. As Jesus and his heavenly guests converse about his soon coming Passion, Peter, James and John are overcome by the enormity of the experience. Lest they should miss the overwhelming meaning of this mountain top experience, a cloud overshadows them out of which they hear the Father saying, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Upon the lifting of the cloud they see no one else but Jesus, Jesus standing alone with them.
In our Lenten pilgrimage, through fasting, prayer and almsgiving, we seek to have eyes to see Jesus; to have the holiness of heart to see God.
These forty days of Lent encourage us to place a check upon our appetites. Accustomed as we are to the immediate satisfactions of food, entertainment and creature comforts, Lent draws us to embrace the weightier matters of justice, mercy and faith; matters enabling our own conversion and ability to be less distracted.
Food, shelter and clothing are things our Heavenly Father knows we need. However if you have forty pairs of shoes, you may be distracted by too many shoe advertisements. It's a fine line between being a consumer and being consumed. Living more simply is to place more trust in him who says, "Seek first his Kingdom and righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well."
Whatever we may surrender or deny ourselves brings us closer to Him 'who spared not his own Son but handed him over for us all.' Then St. Paul adds, "How will he not also give us everything else along with him?
In an act of total surrender, Abraham offered up his own son Isaac. The Father seeing Abraham would hold nothing back from Him, stopped him from slaying his own son in sacrifice to the Lord. Why did the Father bring Abraham to such an ordeal? It was to confirm Abraham's faith that God will provide for himself a sacrifice, that in the gift of giving himself, the Father will give over and above, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. (Luke 6:38)
Today's scriptures help us to see Jesus more clearly. We need this vision of Jesus so that we may see others more clearly. That we might respond to those around us more justly, with more mercy. A cup of cold water, an understanding heart, a pat on the back will make visible the Kingdom of God.
If you wondering what Jesus looks like, take a look at your spouse and children. One of my prayers this Lent has been that I may not be a stumbling block in any way to my family.
Jesus bears a resemblance to the outcasts of Calcutta and the neighbor next door. Wherever hunger, thirst and sickness exist, the sacred face of Jesus can be seen. Every time we lift the load of the despairing, visit the prisoner or hold the hand of an aging Grandmother, it is Jesus we are helping.
Jesus is everywhere. In the cry of the poor, in the anguish of the deserted, in the tender embrace of a new born. These holy icons among us open a window into heaven. We can look past these opportunities to gaze upon Jesus, or we can be transformed in the depths of our hearts.
Lent gives us forty days to be transformed, to become pure in heart, to see Jesus again.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, help me to hear you, to see you alone in all things and in every one. Amen.