A Reflection on the Readings for the 2nd Sunday in Lent, March 5

Genesis chapter 12: Abram’s Call and Migration

In Genesis chapter 12, we are introduced to Abraham, who is initially called Abram. It is not until chapter 17 that God changes his name to Abraham, signifying the covenant God made with him and his descendants. This chapter focuses on Abram’s call and migration.

One important point to note is that Abraham’s faith and trust in God’s promises are tested throughout the subsequent chapters. Although he and his wife Sarah struggled at times, they ultimately maintained their faith and trust in God. The two major promises made to Abraham were that his descendants would inherit the Promised Land of Canaan and that he would be the father of a great nation.

It is understandable that Abraham and Sarah found it difficult to trust these promises, considering their age and Sarah’s barrenness. Abraham was around 75 years old at this point in the narrative, and Sarah was 65. It would take another 25 years of following God’s directives and wandering through the land before Sarah finally gave birth to their only child, Isaac.

There were moments when Abraham’s faith faltered. On two occasions, he claimed that Sarah was his sister and gave her to a king because he feared for his life. However, it is important to note that Abraham wasn’t technically lying. Sarah was his half-sister, and in their community, it was common for a man to adopt his wife as a sister for her elevated status.

In another instance, Sarah, who was unable to conceive, gave her maidservant Hagar to Abraham to bear a child. This practice was accepted at the time, but it ultimately led to complications and the birth of Ishmael.

Chapter 17 serves as a turning point, where God reiterates His promise to give them an heir. Abraham initially laughed at the promise, and Sarah also had doubts. However, in chapter 21, their faith is rewarded, and Isaac is born. This event marks the beginning of the age-old feud between the Arab and Jewish nations.

The overall message of these chapters is that despite our frail humanity and occasional lapses in faith, God will fulfill His promises if we maintain our faith and strive to live according to His teachings. Abraham and Sarah’s story serves as a reminder that our salvation will be fulfilled if we trust in God and strive to follow Christ’s teachings.

2nd Timothy: Bearing Hardships with God’s Strength

The second reading from 2nd Timothy further reinforces the message of maintaining faith in the face of hardships. It encourages us to bear the difficulties of life with the strength that comes from God. It reminds us that Christ has conquered eternal death and offers us eternal life if we remain faithful and live according to His teachings.

Matthew’s Account of the Transfiguration

Our Gospel reading for this week is Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This event serves as a confirmation of Jesus’ divinity and His role as the Son of God. The voice of God from the cloud affirms Jesus’ identity and points to the glory that Jesus will share with His Father and those who remain faithful to Him.

The presence of Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration confirms the validity of the Old Testament’s Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). The Transfiguration takes place on a “high mountain,” reminiscent of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and Elijah seeking refuge in the same place.

The voice of God from the cloud also recalls the baptism of Jesus, where God affirmed His pleasure in Jesus as His Son. However, during the Transfiguration, God adds the instruction to “listen to him.” This instruction is likely a reference to Moses’ statement in Deuteronomy 18, where he speaks of a future prophet whom the Lord will raise up, and the people are to listen to him.

The last verse of our Gospel reading is significant. Jesus instructs the apostles not to tell anyone about the vision until after His resurrection. This is known as the “Messianic Secret.” The people of Jesus’ time were expecting a messiah who would be a warrior king and restore the Kingdom of Israel. However, Jesus came to establish a heavenly kingdom and fulfill a different kind of messiahship. His true identity as the messiah was to be kept secret to prevent people from trying to make Him an earthly king.

The Golden Thread: Maintaining Faith in the Face of Struggles

The common theme running through our readings this week is the importance of maintaining faith in God, even in times of struggle. Abraham and Sarah’s story serves as a reminder that despite our human frailty, God will fulfill His promises if we remain faithful. The apostles’ example in 2nd Timothy teaches us to bear hardships with the strength that comes from God. And the Transfiguration of Jesus confirms His divinity and the importance of listening to Him.

As followers of Christ, we are called to maintain our faith and strive to live according to His teachings. We may face challenges and occasional lapses in faith, but if we seek the strength that comes from God, we can find assurance in the promise of eternal life. Let us hold fast to our Catholic faith formation, trusting that God will fulfill His promises and lead us to the heavenly kingdom.