March 6, 2009

Second Sunday of Lent / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThis weekend’s first reading is from the Book of Genesis.

Abraham was a very important figure in the process by which Jews reach a sense of ethnic and personal identity. He is regarded as the father of the Hebrew people.

Genetic links, however remote, between Jews of any age and Abraham are not the only consideration. He is seen as the great example of faith in God and of obedience to God.

For this reason, Abraham is a person whom Christians venerate.

Scholars believe that Abraham, who is revered also by Muslims, actually lived at one time, albeit the fact that he lived thousands of years ago.

In this reading, God promises divine protection to all of Abraham’s descendants.

Seventy years ago, Pope Pius XI said that Christians fall within the category of children of Abraham, since Christians descend from him as a spiritual father.

St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans furnishes the second reading.

It was written amid a context similar to the circumstances surrounding each of the other Pauline letters.

While Christians certainly were increasing in number in the last quarter of the first century A.D., they still at this time formed only a tiny minority in the population of the Roman Empire.

Furthermore, these early Christians, because of their total commitment to the Gospel of love, seemed either foolish or threatening to the great majority of their contemporaries. Indeed, before the first century ended, the law had turned against Christianity so many Christians surely were uneasy.

Paul reassured them. In this reading, he called them to faithfulness regardless of the “hardships” that easily, even likely, would come their way.

He said that their knowledge of God was their advantage and privilege. God was their strength. Christ had defeated death, and the Lord would prevail over every adversary despite the force behind any adversary.

A passage from the Gospel of Mark is the third reading for this weekend.

It tells the story of the Transfiguration, a story also found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, which, together with Mark, are known as the synoptic gospels.

In the Transfiguration, the Lord’s identity as the Son of God is magnificently displayed. Rich symbols abound. Each has unmistakable roots in the Old Testament. Jesus is atop a high mountain. Each makes clear the fact of Christ’s divine identity.

This message is marvelous as is the fact that God shares with humans the very essence of being within the Holy Trinity. The purpose is that we may know God.


This weekend, we observe the Second Sunday of Lent. Lent is well underway, now over two weeks along in its progress.

If Lent is to mean anything to us personally, we must dedicate ourselves to it, to sincere prayer and penance.

Is it worth it? Through the words of Paul, the Church reminds us of life amid hardships. It is true that Americans do not have to hide from hostile police as the Roman Christians had to hide long ago, but we have our own hardships.

The greatest hardships come from within ourselves. Fears, doubts and our own smugness confound our ability to see things clearly and to act in what truly is in our best interests.

In these readings from Genesis and Mark, the Church details the message of Romans that Christ sustains us and that—regardless of everything and anything—we have nothing to fear.

God’s care for us, in Christ, is the product of God’s love for us. God loves us. The wondrous revelation to the Apostles of the Lord’s divinity, seen in the Transfiguration, tells us of God’s love. Loving us, God promised us life.

He is with us in Jesus, the Son of God. Although almighty, Jesus overwhelms no one. Lent is the process by which, individually and voluntarily, we turn to the Lord. †

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