February 15, 2008

Second Sunday of Lent / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Genesis provides the first reading for this Lenten weekend.

Usually, people associate Genesis with creation. However, Genesis also is a source of divine revelation in other respects. This weekend’s reading, for example, tells about God’s promise to Abraham.

Scholars believe that Abraham was an actual person, not a myth or a result of imagination. Abraham, or Abram, was known for his unshaken faith in God. He even was willing to sacrifice—and in the process to kill—his son, Isaac, because God commanded it.

God spared Isaac by telling Abraham to sacrifice an animal rather than Isaac.

Still, rewarding Abraham’s fidelity, as recounted in this reading, God promised that his descendants would be the Chosen People. God would protect them and give them life as God gave Isaac life. In return, they would have to be faithful to God.

The next reading is from the Second Epistle to Timothy.

Among Paul’s converts was Timothy, the son of a pagan father and a devout Jewish mother. Apparently, Timothy was very special as a convert. Paul called Timothy a “beloved son” (1 Cor 4:17).

According to the New Testament, Timothy was Paul’s secretary at one point. He once was imprisoned with Paul but was released.

Also according to tradition, Timothy became the bishop of Ephesus, then a seaport and a major pagan religious shrine on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in modern Turkey.

In this reading, the epistle encourages Timothy to be strong in his Christian belief despite the difficulties and obstacles that will arise in his life.

St. Matthew’s Gospel, in the third reading, tells the awesome story of the Transfiguration.

This story is a Synoptic Tradition, also appearing in the Gospels of Mark and Luke.

Once again in a Gospel, the Apostles are presented as being not just the Lord’s constant companions, but moreover the recipients of very unique revelation. The Twelve knew much more about Jesus, and about the message of Jesus, than others knew. Jesus made them privileged students to enable them eventually to take the Gospel to people far and wide.

There was another purpose for such special instruction. The Apostles, as they preached the Gospels themselves, would meet many problems. They were human, fully subject to fear, doubt and discouragement. Their faith needed to be reinforced and affirmed. The Transfiguration surely accomplished this purpose for Peter, James and John.

The message is clear. Going to a mountaintop symbolized the search for God. Brilliant light, symbolizing God, shined. Pure white symbolized God. Finally, surrounding Jesus were Moses and Elijah, the great heroes of the religious tradition. He was the Son of God, the God heard by, and beloved by, the prophets.


Lent is under way. The Church begins its lesson for this Second Sunday of Lent by telling us that God actually appears and acts in human lives. He was there with Abraham.

God gives life and peace. He promised life and peace to the descendants of Abraham, and by extension to all who are as loyal to God as Abraham was loyal.

Believers are loyal when they obey God’s commands and allow nothing to supercede God. However, as with the Apostles and Timothy, being a good disciple is not without difficulties. Disciples must be resolute.

To encourage us to be resolute as disciples, the Church teaches us about Jesus. It reveals to us the Transfiguration. It tells us that Jesus is God. He is life.

None equals the power of Jesus. Nothing else gives genuine life and peace. Jesus is the wondrous fulfillment of the ages-long process by which God reached out to people to give them hope, joy and life.

Pointing us toward Easter, the Church tells us that Jesus offers us life and hope, but we must accept this plan by being true to God.†

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