The True Message of Lent
Second Sunday of Lent B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

In the Gospel Reading, Saint Mark tells us about an unusual occurrence on Mount Tabor. Not long before this day, in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus told his disciples about his passion and death. He told them that he would suffer terribly and be killed by the religious authorities of the day. In reality, what he told them was that he would have to suffer in order to reach the glory of his Resurrection. Saint Mark tells us that the apostles did not understand what Jesus had said to them. Even so, perhaps because they really did not comprehend what they had heard, Jesus’ words saddened and worried them.

So it happened that one day Jesus led Peter, James and John up a high mountain apart from the others to pray. Later these same apostles would witness first the agony and then the arrest of Our Lord in the Garden of Olives. But that would be in the future. After hearing what the Lord had said to them in Caesarea Philippi the apostles had spent several miserable days worrying about what might happen. Bible scholars theorize that Jesus probably decided to show them his true glory to relieve them of their sadness and worry. He allowed them to see what today we call, “the Transfiguration.” The divine brilliance was something that the apostles saw for only the briefest of moments. Suddenly they saw Jesus face highlighted brilliantly and his clothes appeared to be dazzlingly white. The prophet Elijah and the patriarch Moses appeared with him. They bowed down in fear and when they looked back up, they only saw Jesus. They enjoyed, for a short time, the consequences of being in the divine presence, the happiness that is reserved in heaven for those who follow God faithfully

Sometimes we also have problems understanding the whys and wherefores of daily life. We don’t know how we are going to resolve the trials and tribulations that confront us. It seems that we are continuously involved in difficult situations. At times like this, the Lord asks us to have faith in him. This Lenten season is the perfect time to show our faith in Christ, to show him that we are ready and willing to listen to him and to follow him. During these days of Lent, we should prepare ourselves, through penance and fasting, for the celebration of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. During Lent, the Lord reminds us that before we experience the glory of heaven, we have to go through the Calvary of daily life.

Our First Reading tells us about the sacrifice that Abraham was prepared to make to show his love for God. God called him by his name and Abraham answered quickly, “Here I am.” God wanted to test Abraham by asking him to do what is probably the hardest thing that anyone can ask of a parent: to sacrifice an only child. Abraham loved his son, Isaac, dearly. The Lord could not have chosen a more difficult test of Abraham’s faithfulness. But if Abraham was to renew the dialogue between God and humanity that had been broken by the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, God had to be absolutely sure that Abraham could be trusted to do whatever he was called to do. Abraham showed by his attitude that human beings, despite having sinned, still had the capacity not only to love but also to obey the one true God. Centuries later, God, in turn, would show his great love for humanity by sacrificing his only Son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross thus sealing the covenant of love and mutual respect between divinity and humanity.

My sisters and brothers, our readings on this Second Sunday of Lent, tell us that while Lent is a time of fasting and penance, it is not a time of sorrow. In fact, Saint Paul, in the Second Reading, asks us to be joyful and confident. He tells us that if God is with us we can do anything. He reminds us that when we have problems, when the difficulties of life seem to overcome us, we should think of the glory of eternal life awaits those who carry their cross patiently, as Our Lord carried his Cross for us.