The Journey of Faith
Second Sunday of Lent Year A (05/03/2023)
(Genesis 12: 1-4; Psalm 32; 2Timothy 1 :8-10; Matthew 17: 1-9)
By Fr. Samuel Odeh
In our first reading from the Book of Genesis God called Abram to leave his home and his people and embark on a journey that would change his life. God said, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to a land I will show you”. The life of a believer is like a journey together with God. Just like Abram, our father in faith, we are called by a God we do not yet know very well to go on a journey to a promised land, to attempt a journey into a future we are uncertain of. God promised to make Abram a blessing to the nations. God entered a covenant relationship with Abram and changed his name to Abraham; God became the God of Abraham who became his special friend. As believers, we also entered a covenant relationship with God at our baptism. We even took on baptismal names. When God called Abraham, Abraham did not insist that God give him assurances of a bright future or ask for signs that God would keep his promises. It was enough for him that God had called. Abraham obeyed God and followed him faithfully for many years. Even the child that God promised him did not come until both Abraham and Sarah had become very old. Abraham continued to trust in the goodness of God. This was Abraham’s journey of faith with God. Our own journey of faith demands the same commitment from us.
The journey with God, the journey of our faith, is sometimes demanding. The road is sometimes full of hardships and disappointments and failures. The life of a believer is not always full of happiness and success. In such moments when our faith and patience is tried, we need encouragement and support for the journey. Like the holy communion that we take to the sick, also called Viaticum or “Food for the Journey,” we need nourishment and uplifting during trying times. Sometimes this encouragement and uplifting comes through the word of God. The Psalm for today for instance assures us of the constant goodness and kindness and faithfulness of God toward the believer: “The earth is full of the merciful love of the LORD”. “Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, on those who hope in his merciful love”. “Let thy merciful love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you”. Our practices of praying more and fasting and almsgiving during Lent are meant also to demonstrate the enduring and lasting goodness of God even during times of hardship.
Our second reading from Saint Paul’s second letter to Timothy encourages us to “share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago…”. Since Christ called us to follow him we can expect that God will provide us with the strength and power we need to bear our share of suffering for preaching and spreading the Good News of his kingdom. We can also expect that the plans God has for us are all good.
In the Gospel reading from Saint Matthew, Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him up a high mountain, six days after informing his disciples of his suffering, death and resurrection in Jerusalem. He had been teaching them that whoever chooses to be his disciple must take up their cross and follow him and also about what it would cost anyone who wants to be his disciple. What took place on that mountain is what we call Transfiguration. We are told that Jesus’ face became bright as the sun, his clothes white as light. Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the prophets, appeared and were seen talking with Jesus. A bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice, like the voice heard at his baptism, declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”. This event was meant as a foretaste of the glory of Jesus after the resurrection to strengthen the faith of the disciples and for getting them through the scandal of the cross. It is also meant as God's promise to those who follow Jesus closely in bearing their cross that they will also share in the resurrection of Christ. As Christ was glorified in his body on that mountain and also after his resurrection, so also will Christian believers who unite themselves to the cross of Jesus be glorified. Death will not have the final say in their lives. As they were coming down from the mountain Jesus told the disciples to remain quiet about the vision they had seen until he had been raised from the dead. In our journey of faith, events will happen in our lives that will be too difficult for us to accept or understand. We may suffer pain and hardship and even injustice. We may even complain and grumble and feel treated unfairly. At such times let us remember that God is good and trustworthy and that if we continue on our journey with him, listening to his holy word, trusting him, and waiting patiently for him, his purpose for our lives will eventually be revealed. Let us accept the call and invitation to journey with Jesus during this Lent. Let us stay with Jesus no matter what weather we find ourselves in. May we not be ashamed to identify as servants of Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless his words in our hearts. Amen.