Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 16 March 2014 [Second Sunday of Lent]
Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22; 2 Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9 (find the readings here.)
Abraham is a powerful model for the life of faith. He is on a journey. Leaving behind the familiar and the comfortable, he follows God to somewhere new. He doesn’t know where he is going, but he has God’s word that along this path lie blessing for himself and for others. His life is not easy, but it is graced.
We won’t have the courage to follow in Abraham’s footsteps unless we trust God and believe that we journey under God’s protection. The psalm gives voice to that kind of confidence. It recognizes that there will be times of famine, but knows that even in those times God is trustworthy. The psalm also reminds us that the God we follow loves justice and is merciful. So even when we cannot fathom what lies around the next corner, we know what values should dictate our next step. We are to fill the world with kindness. Just like Abraham, we are called to be a blessing.
St Paul reminds us that the journey is not easy; we must be willing to bear hardships. But Paul also reminds us that our journey is grounded in God’s grace extended to us in Christ Jesus. God gives us strength to fulfill our calling to a life that reflects God and contributes to God’s dream for the world. It is a journey that is life-giving and life-affirming, that stands against death in all its forms. In it we participate in God’s greater purposes; we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
God gives us what we need for the journey, sometimes in ways that only really make sense in retrospect. In preparation for the journey toward Christ’s crucifixion, Peter, James and John are given a breath-taking glimpse of Jesus and the meaning of his life in the religious experience atop the mount of Transfiguration. Their reaction is quite understandable – they want to stay with the experience, to pitch tents there. But Jesus insists that they come down from the mountain and continue on the journey. They have had the experience, but will only understand its meaning once that have accompanied Jesus through the crucifixion to the resurrection. The journey will be difficult, but they will be able for it because it is Jesus who journeys with them.