Lubem, [28 Feb 2021 at 7:47:50 am]:
Homily for II (2) Sunday of Lent Year B. 28-02-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Psalm: Psalm 116:9
Second Reading: Romans 8:31b-34
Gospel: Mark 9:2-10
We frequently sing the beautiful song, “Abraham’s blessings are mine,” which takes our minds to the glorious rewards that Abraham received from God, how from one offspring (Isaac) he becomes the father of all nations. But quite often we seem to forget that the flipside of that song is “Abraham’s trials are mine,” relating to the painful path Abraham took to receive those Divine blessings. Both are like two sides of a coin, and we can’t take one and leave the other. It is important we remember that God made the promise of making Abraham the father of all nations when he was 75 years old. However, it took 25 years of waiting, for God to fulfil this promise in his life when Abraham was already 100 years old and his wife Sarah 90 years old. Humanly and scientifically speaking, it is impossible to still bear children at such age, but God demonstrated that He is higher than the laws of science. This is already a first indicator that science cannot solve all our problems. What human science calls impossible, faith in God sees and laughs. Such was the vision of Abraham who had learned to wait for God and on God in trust and obedience. And today, we see God put him to yet another test, asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. As tough as this is, Abraham did not think twice because he had learned to walk by faith placing his trust in God. It can never be easy but it becomes possible when we walk by faith. Are you walking by faith or by sight? Only those who walk by faith like Abraham can get to their final destination. Abraham had understood the logic that there is always a delay between God’s promise and its fulfilment but for a better purpose; to prepare us to receive His promise. It means what God was doing to Abraham was preparing him by testing his patience and faith without which we cannot serve God. So, if his blessings are ours, let us be ready for his trials too which come before the blessings that are the rewards for surviving the trials. No matter the trials we pass through on our journey, we can survive if we trust and obey the Lord. We see this point clearly in the gospel reading as well.
The gospel passage is the familiar episode of the Transfiguration. Christ takes His kitchen cabinet; Peter, James, and John, to the mountain where He is transfigured before their very presence. They see Moses and Elijah appear, who represent the two great traditions of the Old Testament – the Law and the prophets, which all pointed to and were fulfilled in Christ. It is important not to overlook the fact that Moses, as great and charismatic as he was as a leader of the Israelites, did not however enter the promised land even though he saw it. On the other hand, Elijah though being the greatest prophet in Israel, did not live to witness the fulfilment of God’s promise of sending a Messiah. He had to go and come back again in another form before the great and terrible day of the Lord in the person of John the Baptist. This means that the law and prophecy alone cannot take us to salvation, save the intervention of Christ. That is why Christ came to purify them and reorder them to Himself who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). The voice of the Father speaking from the cloud confirms this and bids us to listen to Him. Therefore, it will be foolishness to keep to the laws and the prophecies about God while forgetting the God of those laws and prophecies. Ask yourself, do you listen to Him? To listen to God is to obey Him like Abraham and to carry our crosses like Christ did as man in obedience to the Father. This is the mystery of the incarnation culminating in the cross that brought us salvation in the death and resurrection of Christ through which we become children of God. And today, Christ manifests a foretaste of that heavenly glory which awaits us all to His apostles.
Like Peter, we also desire to follow Christ but always wishing only the bright side of what it means to be His follower. So just as we like to claim Abraham’s blessings without his trials, we see Peter claiming Christ’s glory without the cross. This attitude cannot take us to the glorious reward prepared for us. And Jesus knowing this, corrects the apostles and us today, teaching us how to set our priorities right. Instead of taking the cart alone or putting the cart before the horse, we must indeed put the horse before the cart. That is why He charged them on their way down the mountain, ‘…to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead (Mark 9:9).’ That is, until He completes the Paschal Mystery of suffering, death and resurrection. Therefore, to reach to the glory of God as Christ shows us today, we also must be ready to renounce ourselves, to take up our crosses daily, and follow Him and die with Him, so that we can be raised with Him into the glory of heaven on the last day. As such, to preach Christ without the Cross is to attempt to claim the blessings of Abraham without his trials and the glory of Christ without His sufferings, and this is a heresy. Today there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing who have twisted the message of the gospel reducing the whole good news to material prosperity devoid of suffering. Are you one of them, or do you follow such false teachings? If the Son of God whom you are following accepted willingly the way of the cross to reach His glory, how can you think there is a shortcut to salvation that bypasses the cross? Indeed, there is no Christ without the cross as Christ reminds us today. Hence, anyone who tells you about Christ without the cross is preaching a false gospel and you must flee from him/her.
The cross is the greatest sign of God’s love for us through which He accepted to offer Himself for our good and salvation. As followers of Christ therefore, we also must accept to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. To do this is to accept the daily crosses that Christ’s wants us to carry. Are we ready? Let us pray especially that in this Lenten season, God may give us the faith and trust to walk His way of the cross faithfully for the salvation of others and our salvation to attain to the glory of heaven which He reveals today. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.