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Bible Reflections View Comments

God Is More Glorious Than We Can Imagine
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
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The Second Sunday of Lent features the account of the transfiguration. The event gave the disciples a foreshadowing of Jesus’s glorious destiny, even though they were unable to comprehend it fully at the time.

For us, this narrative reminds us that the goal of Lent is resurrection and the renewal of our baptismal vows. A penitential season such as Lent can cause us to focus overmuch on the suffering and death of our crucified savior. The transfiguration reminds us that at the end of the suffering is unimaginable life with the resurrected Christ.

This is the paradox and the tension that Christians hold as an essential part of our belief: Only through the cross do we find life. But the life that we do find is real and eternal. We don’t keep coming back to Lent because God has not really forgiven us. We keep coming back to Lent because we haven’t yet accepted that forgiveness and grace.

Today’s First Reading from Genesis recounts the covenant God made with Abraham. In a ceremony that seems bizarre to us, God and Abraham pass between a series of sacrificial carcasses that have been cut in half. In the symbolism of ancient treaties, they were declaring that the same destruction would happen to them if they broke the covenant. And yet we know that the Israelites through the centuries did break the covenant and were not destroyed, because God always remained faithful.

In the Gospel, Peter, James, and John awake from sleep to witness the vision of the transfiguration. Like the covenant with Abraham, this one is sealed with an expression of God’s willingness to die to ensure that the covenant does not fail.

The presence of Moses and Elijah tells us that Jesus’s new covenant is truly a fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham and the covenant with Moses at Sinai. The great prophets—Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others— reminded the people to keep faith with this covenant.

The apostles are speechless after this event, perhaps because they still cannot grasp the full implications of what this covenant will mean in Jesus’s life and what it will mean in their own lives. Yet they know that it is good that they have witnessed such glorious proof of God’s favor. They have been graced with a vision of the resurrection we profess.

When we are baptized we become sons and daughters of God and anytime we are reminded of this we should shine with renewed and transfigured light. This is what we are called to, and this vision should strengthen our willingness to undergo conversion and reconciliation in our Lenten journey. This Sunday’s Scriptures can give a deeper meaning to our Lenten disciplines. It’s not about what we’re doing for God, it’s about what God has done and is doing for us.

Our covenant with God is so magnificent that it can only be described with images that dazzle our imaginations. When the realization of what God will do for his people dawns on us, we cannot remain asleep, caught in our dim, stumbling routines. Especially for lifelong Christians, it’s easy to become complacent about our spiritual lives. The Scriptures continually remind us that the glorious vision of life with Christ raises even our ordinary lives to a new level. Our calling is to take some of that glorious light to all those we meet.


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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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