2nd. Sunday of Lent -Year A.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“The Vocation Of Abraham And The Christian.”
Have you ever been totally disorientated not knowing which way to go? It is not a pleasant experience. What about those who have lost their spiritual way? They, too, are bewildered and are searching for a way out. The life of a Christian could be compared to a journey to be taken in the company of the Master. Abraham was the first man to be start off on this journey in answer to a call from God (first reading). Like him every Catechumen and Candidate is invited to leave his or her ‘comfort-zone’. The second reading calls upon the disciples and us not to get discouraged because of the difficulties which will be encountered along our journey of faith. The Gospel shows us the Light that the Catechumen and Candidate must follow during their journey.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible. These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings. These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings ‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.
In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.
Genesis 12:1-4a. The first reading tells us how the history of salvation begins by God’s manifestation of himself to Abraham who was called to become the forefather of a great people. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house,” God says to Abram, “go to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Here is, in short, is the choice proposed to Abraham: he was asked to abandon the kind of life he had been leading so far, a life that gave him security, and to set out on a new and totally unknown course. He had to put all his trust in the mysterious caller who had promised him land, prosperity and blessing. What befell Abraham is the representation of what happens in the life of every Catechumen, Candidate and Convert. At the start, God did not reveal to Abraham where he was taking him and did not tell him of the difficulties he was to encounter. Why? Because Abraham and like any of us, would have become discouraged. God acts in a similar way also with the Catechumens, Candidates and Converts: God enters into their lives and breaks up the ‘false peace’ and promises them a different life, a true life, a life full of love and tranquillity, he guides them and little by little lets them know the steps they have to take. Slowly, day after day, they are invited to answer, to give their “yes!” to God who is leading and guiding them. What about us, who are no longer Catechumens or Candidates? What can we learn from the example of Abraham? The way he answered God’s call is an invitation for us not to withdraw into ourselves, to have the courage to give up certain bad behaviours, certain ways of thinking, customs and living contrary to the Gospel.
This separation is difficult, but what God promises is great. We are grateful to Abraham and by his decision he took a major step in the way of salvation. This event can be dated fairly accurately: Abraham lived about 1850 years before Christ.
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22. The psalmist sings of his own vision of God: ‘for YHWH’s word is upright, and all his deeds are to be trusted’. This is a God who is attentive to us: ‘Look! YHWH’s eye is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love’; and the vision enables the poet to ‘hang on in there’: ‘our soul waits for YHWH; he is our help and our shield’. If this word had been spoken to Abraham, it would have accomplished what it promised (Is. 55:11). God is forever faithful. 2 Timothy 1:8b-10. This passage can be applied to Abraham’s calling and to the ‘Transfiguration’. The summons to Timothy to overcome his timidity and to take his share of hardships associates him with the disciples at the ‘Transfiguration’; they had to accept the ‘Passion of Christ’ and share in it. Likewise so must we! Abraham did not earn his call or the promises: it came by “God’s own purpose and grace,” as Paul never tires to stress (Rom 4; Gal 3). He then goes on to say, “Christ Jesus… abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” The ‘Good News’ Paul speaks of is that Jesus journeyed through life, suffering death into a new and immortal existence with God. He opened the way for us to do the same, empowering us through the Spirit, who works through the whole people of God. “If we die with Him, we will rise with Him”. Matthew 17:1-9. The second Sunday of Lent takes us to experience the glory of Jesus that we would normally associate with his ‘Resurrection’. Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of three of his disciples, Peter, James and John. They see Moses and Elijah speaking to Jesus. They would love to stay on the mountain forever, but a voice from heaven invites them to listen to Jesus and obey him, the beloved Son of God, as he goes towards the Cross. At this moment the apostles do not understand what is happening or what the heavenly voice is saying. It is only in the light of the ‘Resurrection’ that the full meaning of the event will become clear to them. What makes mountains so special for the people of Israel is that it was a place of meeting God, the place of the Covenant. On a mountain, God revealed himself to Moses and later to Elijah and gave them a mission. As Jesus accomplishes his mission, he goes to the mountain. But there is a great difference. The revelation is not given to Jesus as it was to Moses and Elijah before him. Jesus himself gives the revelation to his disciples who belong to his inner circle. Though the mountain demonstrates continuity with previous revelations, there is something new happening in and through Jesus. Underlying the account is the truth that Jesus, in a moment of deep prayer wherein he sought the direction he was to take, decided that it was his Father’s will that he go to Jerusalem even though certain death awaited him there. This was a momentous decision. It fulfilled the law of the chosen people (as symbolized by the presence of Moses), as well as the entire prophetic tradition (as symbolized by Elijah). More than this, it was a decision that was to shape the future. Jesus’ shining face and his clothes as shining white show, according to the common symbolism of the time, signified the presence of God in the person of Jesus. The bright cloud that covered them with shadow means exactly the same. In Exodus, a pillar of cloud protected the Israelites and showed them the way. It was a visible sign that God accompanied his people. Also when Moses received the Law, the mountain was covered by a cloud. This too was a sign of the presence of God. This becomes clear from what God says to the apostles who witnessed the Transfiguration, and to all of us: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him.” The history of salvation is the story of God’s outreach to his human creatures, the story of God’s initiative of graces and blessings. The other basic element of salvation history is human response. God does not force his gifts on anybody. He offers. The extent to which God’s offer is accepted is the extent to which God’s plan of salvation is brought to fulfilment. Adam and Eve rejected God’s offer of happiness in paradise. They wanted something else. Abraham had trust and confidence in God’s promise. He was submissive to God’s will. He accepted what God offered him, even when that acceptance involved leaving behind everything that he had. Sometimes responding to Christ’s call, doing what we know God wants us to do with our gifts, can be difficult, demanding, and even frightening. The way in which we respond to our Redeemer constitutes our answer to God’s call. Through Jesus, we must in ‘deep prayer and complete trust’, seek the direction that the Father wishes us to take irrespective where it might lead us..
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following
the 2nd Sunday of Lent Year A, we reflect on …
Sun. … At the age of seventy-five when most of us are well into retirement, Abraham is recruited for his great mission, to claim a new land and to be a father to a new people. A summons from God can come at any time. So even if you are receiving your senior citizen discounts these days, you are not off the hook when God comes a calling. Mon. … God asked Abraham to abandon the life he was leading so far and to set out on a new and totally unknown course. God wanted to bless and save his human creatures and decided to do it through the instrumentality of this unknown man from Ur of the Chaldeans who happen to live in Haran. God’s initiative would be carried out by God’s power. Tue. … Abram obeyed, he left everything behind in pursuit of God’s promise. He put himself totally at God’s disposal. We all need to put God first in our lives and be prepared to travel and embark on a new course in our lives if necessary. Wed. … God has a ‘plan’ and it does not depend on our merit. It is clear that the divine plan is not about only us, but about which human reason would find it difficult or impossible to comprehend. We need to put our trust in God and to carry out God’s will and calling. It is not by our own efforts that God makes grace available to us; it is given to us for God’s own purpose and not for our own. Thur. … One minute, Peter, James and John are in the presence of their friend and teacher Jesus. The next minute, the light is so bright they can hardly see, and what they do see and hear is astounding and somewhat frightening. Courage deserts the disciples, and they cower on the ground. Are we too sometimes fearful and terrified by the touch of the divine presence in our lives? We need never to fear God, only to fear offending Him. Frid. …There are times when what God is doing in our lives may make us anxious and afraid. However when that overwhelming and hallowed moment passes and the coast seems clear of epiphanies, we can dare to move on. The trace of divine footprints makes it clear “Who” has been in our midst. We need to ask in prayer, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”. Sat. … A practical programme for Lent might aim for better listening … to God, to others and to our inner selves. Let us give our minds the gift of silence. Time with Scripture each day shows a desire to listen to God and to do his will.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, help us to hear the saving teachings of Your Son. Enlighten us with the vocation of a true Christian that we might find the way to Your glory.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale. “Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.