The Pledge of Future Glory
by Erica Tice
Each year the 2nd Sunday of Lent presents us with the account of Christ’s transfiguration on the mountainside. Seeing as the Lenten season has just begun, it seems to be an interesting vignette in the life of Christ to be recalling when, ordinarily, we might think that focussing on Christ’s suffering and death might be more appropriate to the season. A closer look, however, allows us to see that the account of Christ’s transfiguration has deep significance for us early in this season of Lent as it focuses on the sister virtues of hope and perseverance.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1817). It is precisely this virtue that Christ wants to strengthen in Peter, James, and John and, by virtue of our baptism, in us as well. He knows that His friends will abandon Him in His hour of need, not because they no longer love Him, but because they are weak and fearful. This transfiguration into glory on the mountainside serves as a foreshadowing of the glory of the life to come in the kingdom of heaven. We are meant to recall this glory, and the promise of our future glory, when we are in the midst of our own penance and suffering.
Perseverance is the virtue by which we maintain our hope and carry out our objectives to attain holiness in spite of difficulties. Holiness is earned, not bestowed. In today’s Gospel, we understand that Peter, James, and John will need to persevere not only through Christ’s suffering and death, but also their own tribulations and martyrdom to attain holiness. We, too, strive to persevere through the wear and tear of daily life, always keeping the goal in mind: eternal life. St. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Dominican friar and theological giant, phrased it beautifully when he penned a prayer relating to the virtue of perseverance: “O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is recalled, the soul is filled with grace, and the pledge of future glory is given to us.”
This week, let us anchor our hope in God and recall the pledge of future glory that Christ has promised to all those who persevere in the life of grace: eternal happiness in heaven with the Trinity and all the saints.
Genesis 22.1-2, 9.-13, 15-18
Romans 8.31b-35, 37
by John Dalla Costa
Pope Francis often describes the church as a “field hospital.” The world’s wounds are not of tangential concern to the church. They are its holy mission. Indeed, evangelization is empty without attending to both the causes and aftermaths of those injuries that effect the health of body, mind, heart and soul. Early church fathers and mothers recognized that, as the mystical body of Christ, the church must continue the healing work of Jesus’ ministry. St. John Chrysostom called the church “a hospital for sinners, not a court of law.” St. Ambrose recognized that “sickness needs medicine. The medicine is the heavenly and venerable sacrament of the Eucharist.” Pope Francis is retrieving this ancient legacy, while also renewing it. He is asking us each to go into the world, as only we can – in the fields of our own our workplaces and classrooms, of our daily meetings and coffeeshop encounters, of our political activity and social justice work – to bring, as Jesus did, sacramental healing, hope and joy to others. Today’s readings remind us of the revolutionary power to heal that we’ve inherited through Baptism. The law in Leviticus logically sought to protect the community from leprously, which is as contagious as it is catastrophic. The burden of the law, however, fell on the ill, so that those afflicted with the disease were held responsible for their own painful ostracization. Jesus reverses this law, making himself vulnerable to the most vulnerable. In the passage preceding today’s gospel, Jesus tells his disciples : “Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also.” Moving into the field, which is always unpredictable and dangerous, Jesus meets the leper, and heals him. Such a hospital is not a place, but a disposition: it is not a structure, but an encounter, which looks beyond legal responsibility to attend to the moral needs of the human person before, or beside us. Not surprisingly, the medicine we usually most need personally is often the same as that, which by our gifts, and by God’s grace, only we can administer to others.
- Leviticus 13.1-2, 45-46
- Psalm 32
- 1 Corinthians 10.31-11.1
- Mark 1.40-45
by Lisa Fernandes
Today’s readings are about hope. Job is a man who exemplifies suffering. He is subjected to many trials and tribulations and in the first reading we feel his misery when he appeals to us by saying: “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and come to their end without hope. Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good.” (Job 7. 6-7) To him life seems hopeless; but he does not lose faith.
In the second reading we hear of Paul’s mission as an apostle, to teach the Gospel and spread the hope of Christ. We see his passion for his work when he says: “I have become all things to all people so that I might by any means save some. I do it for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessing.” (I Corinthians 9.22-23) The second reading shows us hope in action, not just personal but spreading the good news to others.
I attended a veneration of a relic of St. Francis Xavier recently at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. He has been called the greatest missionary since St. Paul. He baptized around one hundred thousand people and performed miracles of healing and others. As I did, thousands of people lined up across Canada to venerate the relic, a physical symbol of a man who brought hope and the good news of the Gospel to so many, and continues to do so even now. It was uplifting to see this turnout at a time when there does not seem to be a lot of hope in the world.
The Gospel shows us hope fulfilled by the power of Christ’s deeds. Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law and cures many others from the city who were sick and possessed. We feel hope for ourselves when we see what Jesus can do for the whole city and even more so for humanity when he says: “Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do” (Mark 1.29). In this case hope fulfilled becomes reality. Let us pray that we continue to hold to our hope in Christ.
Job 7.14, 6-7
1 Corinthians 9.16-19, 22-23