Cycle B 2nd Sunday of Lent

 Gen. 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Rom. 8:31b-35, 37; Mk. 9:2-10

The First Reading from the Book of Genesis tells us that God tested Abraham. [Gen. 22:1] God wanted to see just how faithful Abraham would be in obedience.

After calling Abraham, God commanded him to take his son Isaac and to go to the land of Moriah to offer him there as a burnt offering on a mountain that will be shown to him.

As Genesis 22:3-8 tells us, Abraham obeyed God. Early in the morning, he set out towards the mountain. Genesis 22:6 tells us that "Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac." When Abraham came to the place that God had shown him, he built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

Just when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, the angel of the Lord called him from heaven and told him not to lay his hand on the boy or do anything to him. [Gen. 22:11-2] The faith of Abraham had been tested and God knew by his actions that he had a sincere heart.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Mark gives us a glimpse at what awaits those who persevere in their living faith. When Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain, they witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus. His clothes became dazzling white.

One notable example of great perseverance in the Bible is Job. The Book of Job in tells the tale of Job who faced immense suffering and adversity but remained steadfast in his faith.

Job was a prosperous and righteous man, but Satan challenged his faithfulness to God, arguing that Job's piety was only due to his prosperity. In a series of tragic events, Job lost his wealth, his children, and his health. Despite these overwhelming challenges, Job did not curse God. Instead, he endured tremendous suffering while maintaining his trust and faith.

Job's perseverance is demonstrated through his famous words, even in the midst of his trials: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:21, NIV)

In the end, God restored Job's fortunes and blessed him with even greater prosperity than before. The story of Job serves as a powerful testament to the importance of maintaining faith and perseverance in the face of life's most severe challenges.

A modern example of great perseverance in literature can be found in the novel "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. The memoir recounts Walls' unconventional and challenging childhood, growing up in poverty with her dysfunctional family.

Walls' parents were unconventional and often failed to provide basic necessities for their children. Despite facing extreme poverty, hunger, and a lack of stability, Walls persevered. She sought education as a way to escape her difficult circumstances, and she excelled academically. Walls went on to graduate from college and became a successful journalist.

Throughout the memoir, Walls demonstrates incredible resilience, determination, and an unwavering spirit to overcome the obstacles that life throws at her. The story is a testament to the power of perseverance, education, and the human spirit to rise above adversity and create a better life. "The Glass Castle" is not just a personal triumph but also a narrative that inspires others to persevere in the face of hardship.

Let me share the story of Chris Gardner, whose life journey of perseverance was depicted in the movie "The Pursuit of Happiness,".

Chris Gardner was a struggling salesman in San Francisco facing homelessness while raising his young son, Christopher. Despite facing financial difficulties, Gardner managed to secure an unpaid internship at a stock brokerage firm. This decision put immense strain on his personal life, as he and his son had to endure homelessness, sleeping in shelters and at times even in public restrooms.

Gardner's unwavering determination and work ethic caught the attention of the firm, leading to a paid position as a stockbroker. Eventually, he went on to establish his own brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co. He became a successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and philanthropist.

Chris Gardner's story is a powerful example of perseverance, resilience, and the belief that with hard work and determination, one can overcome even the most challenging circumstances.

Perseverance is not just a personal virtue; it is a force that can transform communities and societies. When individuals refuse to yield to difficulties, they inspire others to believe in the power of resilience. Through shared perseverance, we can build a collective spirit that triumphs over challenges, creating a society that thrives on determination and hope.

Abraham's perseverance is exemplified in his unwavering faith and obedience to God's call. Despite facing numerous challenges and uncertainties, including the daunting task of leaving his homeland, the promise of descendants at an old age, and the ultimate test of sacrificing his son Isaac, Abraham remained steadfast in his trust in God. His journey is a testament to perseverance through faith, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The transfiguration of Jesus, as described in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, portrays a moment of divine revelation. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to a mountain where he is transfigured before them, his face shining like the sun, and his clothes becoming dazzling white. During this extraordinary event, Moses and Elijah appear, symbolizing the continuity and fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets in Jesus.

Abraham's perseverance through faith led to the fulfillment of God's promise, and the transfiguration of Jesus serves as a pivotal moment in the narrative of his earthly ministry, foreshadowing the culmination of God's redemptive plan through the crucifixion and resurrection.

Todays ‘Gospel reading places before us a number of messages:

The transfiguration reveals the divine identity of Jesus, emphasizing his unique role and purpose. In today's world, this encourages us to explore our own sense of purpose and recognize the potential for positive impact in our lives.

The dazzling transformation of Jesus on the mountaintop signifies spiritual growth and transformation. In the contemporary context, this calls for a personal and collective commitment to ongoing self-improvement, mindfulness, and spiritual development.

The presence of Moses and Elijah alongside Jesus during the transfiguration signifies continuity and unity between the Law, the Prophets, and the fulfillment of God's plan in Christ. This speaks of the importance of unity, collaboration, and understanding among diverse individuals and communities in today's world.

The disciples' awe and fear during the transfiguration reflect the human experience of grappling with uncertainty. It encourages us to maintain faith and hope even in the face of challenges, recognizing that moments of uncertainty can be opportunities for spiritual growth.

Following the transfiguration, Jesus descends the mountain to continue his ministry and service to others. This serves as a reminder for us to engage in acts of compassion, service, and social justice, embodying the principles of love and care for one another.

The transfiguration provides a glimpse of the glory that awaits beyond the challenges. In a world facing numerous difficulties, the message encourages hope and resilience, reminding individuals that moments of trial can lead to eventual triumph.

In essence, the transfiguration of Jesus speaks of timeless themes of purpose, spiritual growth, unity, and hope. May God grand us strength and grace to make them part of our daily life.