Second Sunday of Lent
LENT: A JOURNEY OF DEEPENING FAITH AND TRANSFORMATION
By: Ann Marie Tedesco
Last week’s Gospel reading was about Jesus in the desert for forty days, an initiation to the beginning of Jesus’ public life. It showed the humanity of Jesus as he fasted and was tempted. (Mark 1:12-15)
In this week’s Gospel reading, Jesus’ Apostles, Peter, James and John accompany Jesus up Mount Taber, a high mountain in Israel. Jesus is transfigured before them. His appearance changes as his clothes become dazzling white, so bright as never has been seen. (Mark 9:2-10) This manifests Jesus divinity, a glorified state of His body.
There are other biblical references to the light of God. Jesus refers to Himself as the light. In John’s Gospel (8:12), Jesus states “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” After being in the presence of God, Moses had to cover his face because it shone so brightly after coming down from Mount Sinai. (Exodus 34:29-35)
The uncreated light of God is referred to in “Lead, Kindly Light”, a hymn with text composed by Saint John Henry Newman. The hymn calls on God to lead him one step at a time on his journey through life. The light of Jesus is the radiance of God’s love as the first letter of John states that “God is love”.
We are made in God’s image and likeness. If the likeness is love, then light will radiate that love. We see that in the radiance on the faces of a bride and groom as they commit their love for each other and on the faces of a new mother and father that light up with love for their new born baby. Our love is meant to shine as a light in the world. Jesus talks about our light when He says, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). St. Paul writes to the Ephesians (5:8-10) “Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out
what is pleasing to the Lord.”
The Apostles who accompanied Jesus on Mount Taber weren’t just afraid, it states that they were terrified. Seeing Jesus in a glorified state meant that this experience would change them. They saw Jesus for His true self. Perhaps they were afraid of the change that would come from within themselves when they truly listen to what Jesus asks of them. This was a time of conversion for them. Living up to our own potential requires a continued metanoia, an ongoing conversion of listening to Jesus and to discipleship in faith, love and transformation.
Jesus knows our propensity for fear and not living to our potential. The radiance in us can be so infrequent. Perhaps we are afraid like Peter and the others as they were upon seeing the dazzling light of Jesus and hearing the voice of God calling Jesus, “My Son, the Beloved” with a command to listen to Him. (Mark 9:7) As Jesus was transfigured, this was a time of transformation for them. Change would come about by listening to Jesus. We too are loved by God. When we listen to Jesus, what He asks of us in love is to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”. (Matthew 3:2)
Lent is a time of repentance, a time to hear the Good News and change our lives. The kingdom of heaven is near and is present in the person of Jesus. Although we don’t experience it fully now, it can be experienced in the love we have for God and each other. Repentance calls us to conversion, to deepen our faith and our love, to change our fear to courage, our impatience to patience, our self absorption to self-giving.
Besides being a time of repentance, Lent is also a time of alms giving; to give to the needs of others. The needs of others can be a lack of finances, and it can also be a lack of health both mental and physical, or a lack of love. Whatever the need, we are called to respond according to our ability.
This time of lockdown in the city is humbling as our choices are limited as to where we can go and who we can see. It can be a time for prayer, to come closer to Jesus, to embrace His love and feel His support. Our prayer can be for those who are suffering in our community from sickness, lack of finances, or loneliness. We can spend more time with our family members or those who are in our bubble, to listen to them, to understand them, to care for their needs.
Lent is a time of deepening faith and transformation. It is a time to let our light shine