Every year on the second Sunday of Lent the liturgy invites us to reflect on the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus.
Last Sunday we reflected on the mystery of Jesus being tempted as any one of us. And learned from him to fight against the temptations with the Word of God.
Today, let us be filled with the light of the Transfigured Lord, and let us listen to Him as the Father invites us.
Our reflection on the readings will be from the point of view of the Covenant.
FIRST READING Gn 15:5-12; 17-18
This reading speaks of one of the covenants that God made with Abram. God had not yet changed his name.
« The Hebrew word for covenant is berit (used to describe the relationship between a lord and his servant, it is a unilateral promise, wholly gratuitous and free on the part of the lord). The Greek word for covenant is diatheke. With these two words the Bible describes different kinds of covenants. Let us see some of them:
o The first and the most gratuitous is the covenant of creation. Creation comes from the gracious and loving initiative of God, who could not even consult us since we did not exist yes. But creation is continuous thus the covenant made by God with his creation is permanent and continuous.
o We find different types of covenants in Scripture:
§ God gives without asking anything in exchange = promise Gn:8-11; 12-17
§ God enters into a covenant through a rite: Gn 15:7-10.17
§ God enters into a bilateral covenant with his people: Jos 24:1-28
« The covenant we find in the first reading belongs to the second type of covenant: the covenant between God and Abram is made through a rite.
Let us analyze the biblical story
« Before the verses we will read this coming Sunday, God says to Abram “do not be afraid, because your reward will be abundant.” To these words of God Abram replies “what use do these gifts do to me since I do not have children, and my servant is the one who is going to inherit my possessions.”
« Let us reflect on the reading for this Sunday
o The descendants of Abram will be as numerous as the stars in the firmament. Abram believes that YHWH can do what he says and thus he is justified, made just, saved.
o The promise is this: I will give to you the land you walk on
o God reminds Abram of all that he has done for him up to that moment. The faith of Israel and the Christian faith as well is grounded in tradition, in the memory of God’s mighty deeds for us. Last week we read how Israel repeats his tradition in prayer “My father was a wandering Aramean”
o Abram asks God how will he know that the land will be his.
o And now God enters into a covenant with Abram. God relates to us in the way we understand according to our own culture, so that we may understand his message given to us.
o In the ancient religions the divinities were the witnesses to the covenants made by men, here in this text of the Bible YHWH himself is the witness and at the same time the one who makes the covenant.
o Abram prepares everything for the ceremony of the covenant God is going to make with him.
o He prepares the wood for the fire and on it in two separate piles of wood they put the cow that had previously being cut in two. Each part was put on a different pile of wood facing each other.
o The persons who entered into the covenant had to walk between the two parts of the animal and say: let it be done to me as it has been done to this animal, if I am not faithful to the covenant I am about to enter.
o Abram feels asleep, and at the same time terror invades him.
o The presence of God is very much attractive to the human being, but at the same time it is terrifying, because God is the OTHER, completely different from us.
o Then Abram sees in the midst of the darkness of night something like a burning torch passing between the two parts of the cow.
o In the burning torch he discovers the symbol of the presence of YHWH who is passing by between the two parts of the animal. God commits himself to be faithful to the covenant.
o As we can see this type of covenant is unilateral, only God commits himself, Abram is only an observer.
o And after that YHWH pronounces the words of the covenant which he makes with Abram on that day “To your descendants I will give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River Euphrates.”
SECOND READING : Phil 3:17- 4:1
ü Paul invites o exhorts the community of Philipi to be faithful and to look towards those who live according to the teachings he (Paul) has given them.
ü He repeats with words full of tenderness and love “copntinue to be faithful to the Lord”
ü We are in the season of Lent, in which we reflect more deeply in the meaning of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, the New Covenant sealed in his blood on the Cross. On the cross he forgave our sins, he paid for us the price of the covenant to which we have not been faithful.
ü In the same way as the ancient prophets Paul reminds them the need to be faithful to the New Covenant.
o Covenant in which the land that is given to us is heaven, eternal life forever.
o Here the faithful is to the gloried Christ who has in the New Testament the place that YHWH, had in the Old Testament, because he is God.GOSPEL Lk 9:28-36
§ Before the event of the transfiguration Jesus makes the first announcement of his passion and explains the conditions to be his disciple.
§ Luke says that 8 days later, probably it refers to the announcement Jesus makes of his passion.
§ Jesus goes up to a high mountain to pray and takes with him the three clsest disciples, the same that went with him to Jairus’ home and were witnesses of how Jesus gave back the life to the girl. They will be also invites by Jesus to be witnesses of his greatest weakness and vulnerability in Gethsemane. These disciples are: Peter, James and John.
§ While he is praying Jesus changes in his aspect and at the same time Moses and Elijah appear talking to him
o Moses en Elijah the whole Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets.
o They speak with him about his exodus which will be consummated in Jerusalem.
§ Jesus as well as the two men are radiant and their clothes are white, all this are signs of the divinity.
§ Luke says that the disciples felt asleep, would that be the same thing that happened to Abram in the presence of YHWH? Or what happened to the disciples at Gethsemane?
§ When they awake they see the glory of Jesus.
§ But they do not understand the true meaning of what is happening on the mountain. Peter speaks for the three of them, he wants to remain in that situation which is so marvelous, he has forgotten the invitation of the Lord to follow the Master in his passion.
§ The cloud covers them, the cloud is a symbol of the presence of God throughout the Old Testament and also in the New Testament in the narrative of the Annunciation.
§ Like Abram who felt fear the disciples are afraid when the cloud covers them and they hear the voice of the Father.
§ What does the voice say? THIS IS MY CHOSEN SON, LISTEN TO HIM.
§ This voice of the Father relates the two narratives of the transfiguration and of the baptism.
§ But here the Father adds “Listen to him”
§ The three of them have been invited to follow the Master as disciples, and one thing that a disciple has to do is to listen and to obey.
§ They do not say anything to anyone, probably because before the resurrection this event could not be understood correctly.
CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiografía.
PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiografía
RAVASI, Gianfranco. Según las Escrituras – Ciclo C. San Pablo 2006.
SCHÖKEL , Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.
SAGRADA BIBLIA, Versión Oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española
August 27 1856. During the thanksgiving to God after the Holy Communion, when I made my profession, our Lord told me to take rest from my fears, that I had written well what he had commanded me. And that my prelate was holy but he had to sanctify himself more by the means His majesty commanded me to write, that this was His will. Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, 68.
I have been told that before I arrived in Madrid there were some excesses at table. Indeed, it is no wonder because such a variety of rich courses, exquisite dishes, and excellent wines were served, all an invitation to over-indulgence. But since I have been forced by duty to attend I have not noticed the slightest display of intemperance. On the contrary, it seems to me that the other guests take less than they need when they see that I am not eating. Often while we are still at table the guests seated on either side talk to me about spiritual matters and want to know what church I hear confessions in so that they can go to confession there. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 409.