THEME: THE BIGGER THE SACRIFICE, THE GREATER THE MIRACLE
READINGS: Genesis 12:1-4/ 2 Tim. 1:8-10/ Matthew 17:1-9
2nd Sunday of Lent
Some Business-men and -women say that ‘the bigger the risk, the higher the returns on the investment’. For instance, if one saves his/her GH¢ 1,000.00 in a risk free savings account in a bank in Ghana at an interest rate of 8% per annum, he/she gets a return of only GH¢ 80.00 at the end of the year. On the other hand, if he/she takes the risk of investing in some other business, the annual return on the investment may be GH¢ 2,000.00 or more. Similarly, the readings of this Sunday of Lent suggest the theme of this homily: ‘the Bigger the Sacrifice, the Greater the Miracle.’
Abram (Abraham), according to the first reading, took the risk of leaving his fatherland and his place of comfort, and God blessed him with a new land – the Promised Land. Again, risking his faith in Yahweh, Abraham patiently waited for twenty-five years, and he was blessed with a miracle: Isaac was born by the ninety-year Sarah! Eventually, to be blessed with the greater miracle of becoming the father of many nations, Abraham had to take the greater risk of sacrificing his only legitimate son, Isaac. Abraham took the risk, and today Jews and non-Jews (including us) refer to him as our father in faith.
Similarly behind today’s gospel reading’s story of the transfiguration is the message that ‘the Bigger the Sacrifice, the Greater the Miracle.’ About three years before the transfiguration, Jesus, at the Sea of Galilee, asked Peter and his colleagues to make a sacrifice: to offer Him their boat as a ‘pulpit’. This request by Jesus was made on a bad day of fishing expedition by Peter and colleagues. However, they didn’t lament nor tell Jesus off. They made the sacrifice, and in the end they enjoyed the miracle of probably the biggest fish catch in their fishing career!
Jesus soon asked for another sacrifice: Peter and his colleagues were to leave the source of their livelihood and become fishers of men and women. Because they made this bigger sacrifice, they witnessed greater miracles as they followed Jesus: for instance, they witnessed the multiplication of loaves, sights given to the blind, lame made to walk, the dead raised to life…. But the greatest miracle was yet to come!
The greatest miracle entailed the resurrection of Jesus, the transfiguration of our deaths, with Peter and his colleagues becoming ‘princes’ in heaven, and all of us becoming citizens of heaven! This required the greatest sacrifice! And only one person could fittingly offer that sacrifice: Jesus, the Son of God. He had to die for our sins. Hence, about a week before the transfiguration, when Peter had identified Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the disciples were told by the Lord of His impending suffering, death and resurrection. The disciples, especially Peter, could not take in this message. So, on the mount of transfiguration they tasted, for a brief moment, the glorious miracle which would follow the greatest sacrifice!
Beloved, because of the greatest sacrifice of Jesus, you and I have access to the greatest miracle: our deaths shall be transfigured, not for a while, but for eternity, not on an earthly mountain, but in the glorious height of heaven itself! Let us, therefore, prepare to celebrate this Easter with a special sense of gratitude to Jesus, and to His Father (who like Abraham offered His only beloved Son), and to the Holy Spirit (who gives us the faith to appreciate and accept these mysteries)! Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis