2015-03-01, 2nd Lent B (Transfiguration), No Surprise

Homily 03-01-15
2nd Sunday Lent, B
Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Ps 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10

(Scriptures included after homily)


Have you ever been surprised by God?

Just when we think we’re starting to get it, Jesus will say something like: “Get behind me Satan,” (Mt 16:23) or “Love your enemies.(Mk 12:31) Or He’ll make a statement like: “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it…” (Mk 8:35)  The disciples were really confused, and I think we would have been too.

Or think about Abraham.  Here God blessed him and Sarah with the ability to have their very first child at 100-years old! (Gn 21:5)  It was truly a miracle!  And Isaac was the love of their lives, when, surprise, here comes God again, asking Abraham to destroy, to kill that very same beautiful, miracle-child of theirs.  It just didn’t make any sense, especially after God had told Abraham that he would have zillions of descendants through that child.  Sometimes God can just take our breath away, and in more ways than One.

Jesus was beginning to talk to His disciples about His passion, death and resurrection.  It was a concept that wouldn’t even register in their minds.  And if they did think about it,
it just did not make any sense.

Imagine hiring that Ivy League surgeon, with credentials that could fill a book.  The gal who was finally going to make a ‘Big Name’ for the hospital, besides bringing in lots of revenue;  when, shortly after starting her new job, she comes in boasting about leaving!  It would make about as much sense, as Jesus talking about His death did to His disciples.

And then there was the shocker.  Out of the blue, Jesus invited his three main guys to take a little stroll up the hill.  It always reminds me of the “little hiking stroll,” that our son, Carl, led us on, a few years back – as we proceeded to climb up the 12,000 ft, Humphreys Peak in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Yet, we were dauntless.  Because, even though the lightning and hail tried to slow us down and everyone else was running back down that mountain, we continued our climb.  You see, we knew that the reward would be well worth the risk.  It was one of God’s little surprises, as the sun-baked the clouds away and we reveled in a magnificent, panoramic view, sitting on the tippy-top of that mountain.

The Reward that the disciples experienced in the Transfiguration of Jesus, on their Mountain Top, made our little excursion, pale in comparison.  But they both showed us how Magnificent our God really is!  And the disciples had the incredible honor of hiking and eating, and sleeping and living – with Jesus.

You see, when we truly get to know our God, we come to discover that there really are – NO Surprises; it’s just our perception of reality.

If we never climbed a 12,000-foot mountain, it would be a surprise to find how quickly our breath is taken away by the lack of air at that altitude.

If we never lived in a dusty, desert environment, we wouldn’t understand what a surprise it would be to see the purity of clean white clothes.

And, if we never lived in a culture that killed animals by hand for food, and sacrificed their children to unknown gods, it would be a surprise, and maybe even an abomination, to imagine being asked to sacrifice your only beloved son.

Abraham’s Faith in God was so strong, that he trusted God enough to follow His commands to the very letter, all because Abraham knew his God so well.  And this little excursion of Abraham’s would prefigure one huge journey that God would take in the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son.

Jesus’ faith in God, His Father, was so strong, that He trusted His Father’s choice in disciples enough to share with them a picture of future events (His passion, death and resurrection), and an Exhibition of His Divinity, in this Transfiguration.

He showed them how the Law of Moses led to the Prophesy of Elijah, who prefigured John the Baptist.

He explained to them how the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah prefigured His own Suffering.

He told them how the resurrection of Jonah from a fish, in order to save the town of Nineveh, prefigured His own Resurrection to save ALL of us.

And He showed them how this Transfiguration would actually prefigure His Ascension into Glory with His Father in Heaven, in a very short time to come.

You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, the disciples were just beginning their journey to truly knowing their God:

The God of LIGHT and LIFE,

The God of Salvation and Resurrection,

The God of Mercy and Nourishment.

As we continue on our Lenten Journey to the Resurrection of Easter, we’re reminded once again, that we are not climbing this mountain alone.  Jesus is sharing Himself with us,
here at this Eucharistic Altar.  Jesus is living within us, as we cross the rope bridges, dodge the lightning and hail, and scale the boulders of Life and Death.

And Jesus is there, just waiting to show us His Glory, with NO surprises, in THE most magnificent, panoramic view of life that we’ve ever experienced!  And that should be no surprise to us.  Because we know, that the BEST is yet to come!

jmp 03-01-15

Scripture Readings for the Mass of 03-01-15
The Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle B

First ReadingGn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

God put Abraham to the test.  He called to him, “Abraham!”  “Here I am!” he replied.  Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah.  There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.  Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered.  “Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger. “Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”

As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing—all this because you obeyed my command.”

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
I believed, even when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones.
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your handmaid; you have loosed my bonds. To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Second Reading:  Rom 8:31b-34


Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?  Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn?  Christ Jesus it is who died—or, rather, was raised—who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.


Gospel:  Mk 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.

Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.  Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.


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