Father Howard Hansen’s Reflections
for The Second Week of Lent 2011
Second Sunday of Lent
Mt. 17: 1-9
“And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.”
The Gospel chosen to be read on this Second Sunday of Lent depicts for us the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor. His face shone like the sun, his clothes were white as light. Jesus literally was a new man! In this story of the transfiguration, we see the close connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus came to change, not to abolish. Moses was present, whose face became like the sun when he saw God on Mount Sinai. The old and the new come together in Jesus.
This is a wonderful story for our reflection during this Season of Lent. We too are to change, we too are to be transfigured. While keeping the old body we take on a new way of doing things, a new way of living, thinking. We turn from the powers of darkness to have our faces shine like the sun. We experience what has come to be called a Spiritual Awakening. We literally acquire a new personality in our same old person. We look and appear to be the same, but we have changed dramatically. All of this happens because we climb the mountain of the Lord with the Lord.
This whole process of transfiguration, this personality change, is quite evident in the 12 Steps of Spirituality. It comes up bright and clear in the 12th Step, which states: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry the message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. This Step echoes the story of the Transfiguration in today’s Gospel. Jesus is transfigured because he follows the will of the Father. He leads his disciples, he carries the message to them, to also be transfigured and this will happen if they follow the will of the Father and the values of Jesus.
This whole thing is another guarantee from Jesus. We cannot miss! If we follow him as our Way, Truth and Life, we will be transfigured, we will become new persons in Christ, we will be happy, joy-filled and at peace with God and ourselves. We will be holy. We will possess heaven right here on earth – almost!
Monday of the Second Week of Lent
Luke 6: 36-38
Today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke is a wonderful follow up for yesterday’s thoughts on our being transfigured, being changed from the old to the new person. Today’s Gospel reminds us to be merciful toward others and not judgmental and critical of them. We have no business condemning and judging others. As we hear often in AA, let’s take our own inventory and not worry about someone else’s. We are to forgive if we wish to be forgiven by the Father. We are to give to others from our God-given gifts and talents and then more, to the point of overflowing, will be given to us. It is easy to see transfiguration coming if we do what Jesus requests from his disciples.
Let’ focus just a moment today on forgiving others. A great Lenten practice is to work on any resentments present in our lives right now. Resentments are silly. The only one we really hurt with them is ourself. They get us all disturbed, all shook up, as Elvis would sing, to the point of losing sleep and becoming physically ill. Who needs that?
Let’s ask the good Lord during this Season of Lent for the strength and desire to forgive anyone we resent. Let’s do ourselves a favor.
Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
Isaiah 1: 10, 16-20
Our first reading for today’s Liturgy is taken from the Prophet Isaiah. A passage of good advice for all of us in the process of transfiguration particularly if we are into ourselves like the Pharisees in today’s Gospel reading.
Isaiah tells us to clean up our act, listen to God, put aside our misdeeds, knock off doing the wrong things, learn to do the good and choose to do it, be just and open and honest with others, hear the cry of those in need and don’t pass them by like the Priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Work at being willing to do what God asks of us, be obedient to his wishes and words. In these many ways of acknowledging Jesus as way, truth and life, we will indeed be transfigured.
Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Mt. 20: 17-28
“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Today’s Gospel selection once again reminds all of us that it is not all about me. This is the point Jesus makes to James and John and their mother in the Gospel. Selfishness is a big problem in our society. It leads directly to greed where there is no such thing as enough and a few end up with all. We have said many times in these homilies over the years I have been writing them that I believe we are all born with a selfish bent. When I am a young child, it is all about me and if I don’t get what I want, I’ll cry and holler and stomp my foot until I do. This early selfishness might just be a key to early survival but we have to get over it. We are a social people. We must relate to others and serve others with our gifts and talents and there is no place in this arrangement for selfishness.
I read a nice little story in a meditation book about a world statesman who was an honored guest of King Edward VII at his coronation in 1901. When the man returned home, people asked him what it was that had impressed him the most at the coronation. His reply, however, had nothing at all to do with the coronation experience. He answered, “I was returning to my hotel one night, when I saw a boy huddled in a doorway with his tiny sister. It was cold and the boy had taken off his coat and wrapped it around his little sister to keep her warm. This sight was more impressive than anything in the coronation.” This is the way of Jesus.
Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
Luke 16: 19-31
Today’s Gospel gives us the very meaningful story of Lazarus the poor man and Divis the rich man. It ties in with what we said yesterday about selfishness. Divis didn’t do anything wrong necessarily in this story. He was rich and enjoyed it with fine clothes, food and living conditions. It’s what he did not do that was his problem; he did not share the riches he had with the poor man who did not have anything, not even a scrap of food to eat. If Divis had invited Lazarus to come and sit at his table and eat with him and maybe provided him with some clean clothing, he would have been praised and avoided all the trouble his selfishness caused him.
Putting yesterday’s and today’s Gospels together and reflecting on them, do I see any semblance of selfishness going on in my life by preferring things, even such things as my time and my work, over other people? If so, what can I do to remedy the situation?
Friday of the Second Week of Lent, March 25
The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
The Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord celebrates the appearance of the Angel Gabriel to Mary and announcing to her that she would be the Mother of God. We celebrate her acceptance of God’s will for herself. This feast was originally a feast of our Lord, but now it is regarded as a Marian feast. The feast dates back to the 5th century and the date of its observance, March 25, was determined by the feast of Christmas nine months later on December 25.
This feast is truly a hinge in God’s plan for our salvation. It puts the whole thing in motion. Mary is referred to by the Fathers of the Church as the New Eve. Through her obedience, her “fiat,” she repaired the damage caused by the disobedience to God’s wishes in the Garden of Eden by the first Eve. Mary opened the door for the fresh new air of the Incarnation to come to be.
This feast gives a very clear example of the results of obeying God vis a vis the results of not obeying him. Obeying God, as we have seen many times, brings accomplishment, growth and happiness. Things are the way they are meant to be. The latter brings sorrow, grief, misery and one big mess.
Mary had a choice. She chose the will of God. We have that same choice time and time again in our lives. Let’s ask God to give us the strength to always choose his way.
Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32
Today’s Gospel presents us with the Gospel story of all Gospel stories: the Parable of the Prodigal Son. This is a parable showing us the magnificent forgiveness of God for our wrongs. The Prodigal, upon his return to the Father, had prepared his admission of guilt: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” The father paid no attention at all to these words. It is as though he didn’t even hear them. All he cared about was that his son had returned home to him. It was for this reason that he killed the fatted calf and threw a big party: “Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and he has come to life again.”
This is what Lent is all about. Like the Prodigal, we turn from the path we have chosen mistakenly to follow and make our return to the Father. And then there is joy – in heaven and in our hearts. Let’s all ask the Lord to help us partake in this joy of returning, of coming back to him.