Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram 3/8/20 “A Bright Cloud Cast a Shadow over them”

+A BRIGHT CLOUD CAST A SHADOW OVER THEM          2nd Sunday of Lent, 2020

Our readings today help us to enter fully into this season. Lent is a time for opening our hearts more completely to the divine plan that touches each one of us in a personal and transformative way. When Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of his disciples he was revealing not only who he was as God’s Beloved but even more importantly who we are become as living members of his Body the Church.  Just as he was preparing Peter, James and John for what he was about to suffer through his passion and death so he was also preparing us to enter more fully into this purifying season.

As St Paul tells us in the 2nd reading, we are to bear our “share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” To live the gospel in our world today demands that we struggle with the many distractions and superficiality that easily undermine our Christian values. Abraham’s call to go forth from the land of his kinsfolk and from his father’s house to a land that God would show him was just such a call out of what was easy and familiar into the land of God’s blessing. It is a journey that could only begin by faith. It is a journey open to each one of us if we are attentive to the voice that speaks from the center of our hearts.

Jesus transfigured before Peter, James and John was once thought of as a post-resurrection story read back into the time of  his public ministry. Most commentators today see the event in a very different light. It was not about his future glorification but was given as insight into his true identity during his public life. Jesus opened the eyes of his first disciples and he opens ours that we might realize just how near he truly is to each of us in our everyday struggles, in the ups and downs we have to contend with day after day.

The season of Lent seems to have a lot of built in challenges and I know I have experienced a few of them already. It is such a graced time precisely because it has a way of letting us experience our human fragility and weakness in the face of life’s demands. I don’t think there could be better words for this season than those we just heard from St Paul saying: God has “saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.”

Lent wonderfully frees us from the excesses or clutter in our lives, to where we experience authentic Christian living is not the fruit of our works but as the work of grace freely bestowed on us in Christ. Jesus transfigured before his disciples is the very Light that shines in the apparent darkness that enters, at times, into our lives. Because of our holy calling, Jesus is always there if we have but eyes to see. Faith alone enables us to open them. Our Faith is like the bright cloud that casts a shadow over us as it did to the first disciples, from which they and we hear a voice that says: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

How near this beloved Son is to us, how intimately close He wants to be to us, is brought home in this Eucharist. Glorified at the right hand of the Eternal Father, he takes bread and wine at this Altar through the ministry of the priest and says: “This is my Body,” “This is my Blood, let me be food for your journey.” Whatever this season may bring, let us never lose heart that He is at our sides, offering us a share in his loving presence.

Gen 12:1-4a; 2nd Tim 1:8b-10; Mt 17:1-9