Homily – 2nd Sunday of Lent (Year C)
Last week our readings told of the temptation of Jesus in the desert and I mentioned how it was prominent and well portrayed in the movie The Passion of The Christ. At the temptation in the Garden were also Peter, James and John. Today we see them with Jesus on Mt. Tabor at the transfiguration. Jesus allowed them to be present and see his transfiguration in order that they would be able to have faith, and hope to persevere when soon they would see their Lord condemned to death.
Many times in the Gospels Jesus tells them of his need to die. He had to explain multiple times that he wasn’t the Messiah they expected. They expected conquering hero and a warrior king. That is why when Christ came as a suffering servant many missed him or dismissed him. Christ in our Gospels today is trying to prepare his disciples. He is trying to let them see a glimpse of future glory so they may endure the trials that are to come. It is a familiar pattern throughout salvation history.
God often intercedes on his peoples behalf in extraordinary ways but he also allows them to endure times of hardship. Often times people have a difficult time seeing God in the midst of suffering and they begin to question, to doubt to wonder. As God led the Israelites across the desert he parted the sea, led them with a pillar of fire, and still they grumbled when they endured hardships. They doubted God’s love for them. Like Abram in the first reading they felt enveloped by darkness. But throughout it all God is faithful to his promises. God does desire to bring us all to the promised land. We too must pass through the desert. We too must walk the way of suffering. We must place our trust in God and look for him in the midst of our daily lives and our suffering.
It is much easier to see God ask the conquering hero, the warrior king. We wait for him to smite our enemies. The transfiguration is easy to be a part of but the Passion is not. Christ was transfigured and glorified in the Transfiguration. We are transformed and glorified in the Passion, death and resurrection. We must seek Christ in the Cross and in suffering and not make ourselves enemies of the cross as the second reading says of some. It is through that cross that our bodies are changed, glorified and all things are brought into subjection. It is easy to want to be a part of the conquering victor but hard to understand the suffering servant. Jesus comes first as the servant and at the end of time as the King. We must go through one to reach the other.
That is a price many aren’t willing to pay. It is in times of suffering that many begin to doubt God. No matter the wonders we have seen him do in our lives. No matter the glories we see on the mountain. We do not want to walk through the desert even if the promised land is on the other side. We do not want to walk the way of the Cross even if salvation awaits us at the end. We doubt God. We doubt his faithfulness. Sometimes we doubt even his existence.
We seek to avoid suffering. The devil arrives at this moment to tempt us as he did Christ in the Garden. Suffering and carrying the cross is to great a price to pay. We are happy, like Peter, to be with Christ at the transfiguration when he is glorified. It is good for us to be here. But also like Peter, when it comes to the carrying of the cross, we are tempted to flee.
Our struggle as Christians is to walk the way of the cross with Christ. To find Christ there in our daily sufferings. That is why we seek Christ through mortifications and penances. If we consciously seek him through our Lenten observances it becomes easier to see him in the suffering when it isn’t something we choose for ourselves.
God is present in our lives and he is faithful to our promises. We need to learn to see him in our everyday lives. When the day gets rough and we are at ropes end we need to offer that suffering to Christ rather than doubt his presence. It can be as simple as saying “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me” or “Jesus, I trust in you.”
In the midst of all our sufferings God is present. He doesn’t abandon us in the desert. He is guiding us to the promised land. He hasn’t left us as we walk the way of the Cross, he is leading us to the resurrection. Jesus comes as the suffering servant before he comes in Glory.
In the midst of suffering we are faced with a choice. We can see Christ in it and trust in God when he says “All things work for the good of those who love the Lord” or we can abandon our faith. We can stay slaves in Egypt and refuse to cross the desert. We can doubt God’s word. We can believe the Devil: “The cost is too great to pay”. Or we can put our faith in God’s promises and cross the desert. We can pick up our cross and die to ourselves. There can be no promised land without crossing the desert. There can be no resurrection with out the cross.
Whose words will you listen to? Who will you put your faith in. My advice is that of the Scriptures. Listen to him. The choice is yours. Choose well.