On this second Sunday of Lent, the first reading and Gospel take us to the mountain top. We see two different atmospheres and experiences. In the first reading, God asked Abraham to take his beloved son Isaac to the mountain of Moriah and to sacrifice him. Genesis 17:5, “No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” Abraham means father of a multitude, but God asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. How could God’s promise be possible if Isaac were sacrificed? God tested Abraham’s faith. In response to Abraham’s obedient faith, God swears an oath to bless the entire world. Abraham was faithful to God and his readiness to sacrifice his son Isaac is a prototype of God the Father and the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. Isaac carried the wood for his sacrifice on the mountain Moriah and lay down on the wood to become the sacrifice. Jesus carried the cross to Calvary, wood for His sacrifice. If we are reading the Bible for the first time, at the beginning of the story we may think this does not make any sense. God promised Abraham numerous descendants but God asked to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. The Apostles might have felt the same way that Jesus’ crucifixion didn’t make any sense. Jesus came to liberate and restore but He was crucified.
In the Gospel Jesus, we read the transfiguration. Early Christianity and Tradition believed that the transfiguration took place on Mount Tabor. It is a message of hope and encouragement. Prior to Jesus transfigured, Jesus told his disciples that he must suffer greatly, be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days (Mark 8:31). How did they react? Peter rebuked Jesus for saying this and Jesus responded, “Get behind me, Satan.” The transfiguration balances out the shock of Jesus’ first passion prediction and strengthens the faith of the three apostles. What a grace for Peter and James and John to see Jesus transfigured. They got a preview of the glory of risen Jesus and his glory in heaven. Like Jesus’ baptism, this transfiguration reveals the Trinity: Son transfigured, the Father’s voice is heard, and the presence of the Spirit is in the cloud.
We can see a similar event in the Book of Exodus 24 the covenant of Mount Sinai. The exodus from Egypt and the covenant at Mount Sinai confirm that God’s covenant love towards the descendants of Abraham. As God directed, Moses took Aaron, Nadab, and Abiud and seventy of the elders of Israel and went up to Mount Sinai. We read in the Book Exodus 25:15-17 “Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered it six days, and on the seventh day, he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the sons of Israel.” The mountain was covered with cloud and God revealed his glory and heard God’s voice. New Moses, Jesus took Peter, James and John went up to the Mountain and revealed the glory. They heard God’s voice.
At the transfiguration, Elijah and Moses came as representatives of the prophets and the law of the Old Testament and testify that Jesus is the Messiah and mediator of the New Covenant. When Jesus foretold His death and Resurrection, Peter began to rebuke Jesus, but here Peter likes to prolong the heavenly experience. So he to Jesus said, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents.” Does this tell us something about ourselves? I think we all like mountain top experiences, and we want to stay there. Transfiguration was preparing the apostles for the entry to Jerusalem and witness Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. May our forty days of prayer, fasting, almsgiving prepare us to celebrate the Holy Week.
Congratulations! I would like to congratulate our sophomore Confirmation Candidates and First Communion children. First Communion children, they made their retreat and First Reconciliation last week. Sophomore students were introduced at last weekends Mass. Congratulations to them and their families. Please keep them in our prayers.