Our world is awash with calls for change. We are called to change our diets, to change our kitchens or bathrooms, to transform our nation’s health insurance plan and our political parties. I don’t know about you, but I receive lots of mail and email every day asking me to help the world change. The change is always linked to a promise of a better tomorrow; all I have to do is trust the new diet or the new health plan or the new political agenda.
Our first reading tells of Abraham’s first encounter with God in which he is called to change where he lives and who he believes. “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you,” we hear God command Abraham. Then, God promises Abraham that he will become the father of a great nation and a blessing for all people. “I will make of you a great nation. …All communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.” All he has to do is trust in God. And, we all know his story. Abraham put his trust in God – even when it meant the call to sacrifice his only son, Isaac – and he became the father of many vast nations. Jews, Christians and Muslims all call him their father in faith.
The reading from Paul’s letter to Timothy encourages him – and us – to put our trust in “the strength that comes from God” with the promise of a share in the “life and immortality” that is offered to everyone who is willing to bear their “share of hardship for the gospel.” We all know the story of St. Paul as well. He endured great hardships as he traveled the world proclaiming the gospel and then was put to death – beheaded – for his faith. But, we proclaim him a great saint for we are confident that he enjoys the glory of heaven promised to those who put their trust in God.
Then, the Gospel presents us with the powerful story of Jesus changing in a dramatic way as he is transfigured in all his glory. “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light,” we hear. And, the world changes around him, as Moses and Elijah – representing the Law and the Prophets – appear with him and then, “a bright cloud” casts a shadow and from the cloud comes the announcement, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
We hear the reading of the Transfiguration on the second Sunday of every Lent to encourage us to change and put our trust in God. Like Abraham and Paul, like our Lord and the apostles, we will all be challenged to change as we put our trust more and more in God and in the Gospel message that Jesus proclaimed. And, like them all, we will face hardships in our lives. Remember, those hardships are not accidental – they are all part of God’s mysterious plan for us. But, if we change and put our faith and trust in God – as Abraham, and Paul and all the apostles did – and, as we unite our suffering to Christ’s, great things will happen, more important than losing weight or getting a new kitchen. We will pass through death and share in the eternal transfiguration God has in store for us in heaven. Let us reflect on this and renew our Lenten dedication so that this Lent will bring us even more deeply into the Paschal mystery and prepare us to share in our Lord’s glory forever!