Second Sunday of Lent
February 28, 2021 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
Sunday Reading Meditations
In today’s Gospel, Jesus leads Peter, James and John up a high mountain, where he manifests his glory. Saint Peter describes this episode in his second letter with these words: “[…] we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, ‘This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain” (2 Pet 1:16–18).
On the second Sunday of Lent, let us also climb the mountain with Jesus, let us lift our minds and hearts to the great and beautiful. Today, let us ask: Lord show us your glory! On the mountain top, God the Father commands us to listen to Jesus. The Lenten season is a special time to be nourished by the Word of God. Meditation upon the Scripture purifies the eyes of our minds, allowing us to behold God’s glory: “For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light” (Ps 36:10). Let us seek Jesus’ glorious face: “Seek his face. It is your face, O Lord, that I seek” (Entrance Antiphon).
The apostles received the grace of seeing Jesus’ transfiguration. Christ transfigured himself to help them understand that his passion would lead to the glory of his resurrection. This vision of God’s light is a foretaste of our eternal destiny. Only God’s glory can satisfy us to the full. Peter exclaims: “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!” (Mk 9:5). Contemplation of God’s splendor fills our hearts with endless joy.
In today’s second reading, Saint Paul says: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Rom 8:31–32). God graciously gives us all things in Christ. He gives us everything that makes us truly happy. As Saint Paul says, “everything belongs to you […] all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God” (1 Cor 3:21–23). The devil would tell you that it is not possible, that God is not going to give you all things in Christ. He would tell you that it is impossible to be happy.
Today’s first reading tells us that sacrifice is a necessary prerequisite for possessing all things in Christ. In order to receive, we need to sacrifice. Sacrifice opens our desire to receive the superabundance of God’s gifts. God tells Abraham: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you” (Gn 22:2). This is one of the most dramatic passages ever written. Abraham had to sacrifice his beloved son, his only son, the son of the promise. God had given Isaac to him and now was asking for him back. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac not because of blind obedience but because he truly believed that God, who had given him his son, had the power to give him back. Indeed, God not only gives Isaac back but also gives Abraham unimaginable recompense: “[…] because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore” (Gn 22: 16–17). Sacrifice is fruitful.
In order to receive all things in Christ, we need to offer all things to the Father. Sacrifice means to recognize that what you love comes from God and to give it back to him as an act of thanksgiving. As today’s psalm says, “To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the LORD” (Ps 116:17).
Even now, while we are still pilgrims on earth, may the Lord allow us to be partakers in the light and beauty of heaven. May we desire and attain the glorious splendor revealed by Jesus in his transfigured body. May the Lenten season be a time to experience that the passion leads to the glory of the resurrection. Amen.