The Second Sunday of Lent
March 17, 2019 Cycle C
by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.
Sunday Reading Meditations
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today’s Word of God invites us to lift up our lives. In the first reading, God invites Abram to raise his eyes toward the stars and in today’s Gospel Jesus takes Peter, John and James to the top of Mount Tabor, where he shows them the splendor of his glory. We lift up our hearts toward the sublime when we allow God’s light to illuminate our darkness.
“Look up at the sky and count the stars” (Gn 15:5). God invites Abram to raise his eyes toward the limitless sky, where he found hope for the fulfillment of God’s promise written in the light from the stars. Nevertheless, Abram could not understand how God could make him the father of a great nation because he was old and his wife Sarah was sterile. Despondency overcame him. As today’s first reading says: “As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him” (Gn 15:12).
God is light, as today’s responsorial psalm tells us: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” (Ps 27:1). God’s presence is light. We need to pass from darkness to light. We cannot see the light because our spiritual sight is atrophied. That is why today’s collect says: “O God […] be pleased […] to nourish us inwardly by your word, that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.” Our spiritual sight needs to be purified in order to discover God’s light. We pass from darkness to light when we seek God’s presence in everything. Today’s psalm says: “Your presence, O LORD, I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Ps 27:8‒9).
Christian life is a process of transfiguration. In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself” (Phil 3:21).
Today’s Gospel says: “Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white” (Lk 9:28‒29). Jesus liked to pray on mountaintops. In other passages of the Gospels, we see Jesus escaping to hilltops from the confusion and noise of the valleys for intimate dialogues with the Father. Prayer is to elevate our souls to God. Prayer is transfiguration. As we pray, we are able to connect people and things with their origin. Prayer allows us to see beyond appearances.
On the top of Mount Tabor, Jesus revealed the uncreated light and his true identity to the three apostles. The glory of God is concealed. “They saw his glory” (Lk 9:32). To contemplate God’s glory is our destiny. In God’s presence and light, our hearts find fulfillment, happiness and peace. That is why Peter says: “It is good that we are here” (Lk 9:33).
To see the uncreated light is a special grace that God gave Peter, John and James, and can also give us. It is usually an unmerited gift following a long journey of prayer and searching. We cannot lay claim to this gift but we can pray for it.
Let us pray: O LORD, show us your glory, illuminate our darkness with your light. May we may find the water that quenches the thirst of our hearts in your holy presence. Amen.