2nd Sunday of Lent, Cycle A – 2014
Our Lenten journey
So, we start the second week of Lent – this intense season of interior reflection, re-conversion of heart. If we participate correctly it will open our ‘inner selves’ to the fullness of the events of Holy Week and Easter. It makes us aware of our differences between where we are and where God desires us to be. It allows us to gauge how close we are to true discipleship. To help us, each week Holy Mother Church proclaims to us valuable lessons from the Old and New Testament.
Today, we hear the account of the Transfiguration from Matthew. Along with Peter, James and John we are witness to Christ revealing His greatness. What Peter and the others must have thought as they saw Moses and Elijah come to Christ and defer to Him, what they must have felt as Christ is revealed in His magnificence, as God spoke; and as important as that is I feel there is a deeper lesson to be learned from these readings. God is revealing His greatness; but what does that mean? It is all too easy to get caught up in divine special effects. What can Christ be trying to show us on Mt. Tabor, indeed throughout His entire ministry about greatness? Let’s look into this.
Back in 2002 Blessed John Paul the Great gave to the Church the Luminous Mysteries for mediation on the Rosary. He placed the Transfiguration into these Luminous Mysteries. As with the other three sets of Rosary Mysteries the Luminous Mysteries are a teaching tool. For those that meditate on them they open our heart to the mysteries of God. Not that they remove the mystery, no that’s impossible – man understanding God fully; but they allow us to enter into the mysteries to help us grow. The mysteries are never exhausted – we can reflect on them all our life and still be surprised by additional insight. Not surprising since they are about our Lord’s life.
But today – let’s take a look at what these Luminous Mysteries tell us about greatness. What is the greatness? What makes one great in God’s eyes?
Baptism at the River Jordan
The first Luminous Mystery is Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan. Does Christ show His greatness by the skies opening, by a proclamation from on high and the Holy Spirit coming down to Jesus; or is greatness in His bowing down to become one with sinners – to meet us where we are?
Wedding Feast at Cana
The second Luminous Mystery is the Wedding Feast at Cana. Does Christ show His greatness by changing water into wine; or is His greatness shown by His humility in obeying His mother and allowing others (like the servants) to help in this event?
Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
The third Luminous Mystery is the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Does Christ show greatness by working miracles of healing, of feeding the multitudes, walking on water; or is His greatness shown in obediently doing His Father’s will by traveling tirelessly to make known to the people what God has in store for them – love and mercy; all the while enduring hardships, abuse, danger.
The fourth Luminous Mystery is the Transfiguration. Does Christ show greatness by lifting the veil and allowing His glory to shine through; or is His greatness shown after the demonstration of His divinity when His disciples look up from the ground and see Him standing there, remaining with them and coming back down to finish His Father’s will, as horrible as it will be.
Institution of the Eucharist
The fifth Luminous Mystery is the Institution of the Eucharist. Is Christ’s greatness in changing the laws of nature; or is His greatness shown in the love that creates this gift? Making Himself small so that we have a chance at making ourselves great.
In the Gospel of St John, known as the most Eucharistic of the Gospels, the narrative of the Last Supper doesn’t include the breaking of the bread or the pouring of the wine, it centers on the washing of the feet. Christ teaching His followers the meaning of greatness – service to others.
What is true greatness?
So, the Luminous Mysteries show how God views greatness: not in power, but in service; not in amazing shows of deity, but in humility; not in awesome grandeur but in meeting those He loves where they are and helping them achieve greatness as God sees it.
In a wonderful and beautiful way St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians (2:5-9), tells them and us how God views greatness:
“Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,”
In our first reading today, from Genesis (12:2), we hear God tell Abram ‘I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing…” A blessing to others – that is greatness! Brothers and Sisters, as we continue our Lenten journey I pray that we all take some time to see how we view greatness and ask God for the wisdom and strength to follow His idea – to be a blessing to others.