February 17: Second Sunday of Lent Year A
Readings: Genesis 12:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Mat. 17:1-9
Call of Abraham, journey of faith, call to be alone with Christ, bearing hardships for the sake of the Gospel: these phrases help us to focus more deeply on the readings of this Sunday. The first reading from Genesis leads us into the most significant event for God’s people in the Old Testament, namely the call of Abraham. To understand the call of Abraham we need to know the context out of which he was called. Abraham is called into a land the Lord would show him; from a land he knew best into the unknown. The city of Ur (in present day Iraq) was a large city with spacious streets and large markets. It was a prosperous city with dazzling technology of the day. For the majority of the people in Ur the only thing that seemed to matter most was prosperity. The people’s ancient religion centered on a life-force or fertility gods. Their rites involved orgies complete with temple prostitutes – male and female. They also had human sacrifices including infants. Their gods demanded more and more blood of children. That was evidently a culture of death. It was those terrible gods Abraham was told to leave. The gods of our culture today are remarkably similar to those Abraham was asked to leave and go to a land the Lord would show him. Through the media we are daily sucked into a culture of consumerism and of death. Like Abraham we are being called to leave our country, to leave our culture to a land the Lord will show us. We are challenged to have faith like that of Abraham, who left in deep and trust that God would never fail him.
In the Gospel, Jesus takes his closes disciples apart on the mountain where his glory is revealed. As in the call of Abraham, Jesus calls each of us to a new land, to leave behind the pagan gods of our culture and the values of prosperity. The way to avoid being sucked into a terrible culture of death is to spend time alone with Jesus like the three disciples. Only Jesus can give us what really matters most. But like the three disciples, we would like to settle in the comfort of Christ's glory on the mountain. We resist accepting the hard way to glory; instead of taking the road to the cross; instead of confronting evil as Jesus did. Paul in the second reading helps us to understand that the journey of faith leads us into the unknown. The message of this Sunday may be summed up in a few points. 1) We are called to be radically different from what the world expects: to be part of a new culture of life; a new way of life in Christ. But the question before us is: can we resist the seduction of today’s culture? “Yes, we can.” Can we overcome today’s subtle persecution and mockery due to our Catholic values and beliefs? “Yes, we can.” 2) While it is tough being faithful Christians in today’s culture, we can live our faith because God gives us the strength to do so. 3) We can bear our share of the cross, because Jesus gives us the power to do so.
©2008 John M. Mbinda