THEME: THE BIGGER THE SACRIFICE, THE GREATER THE MIRACLE
READINGS: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18/ Philippians 3:17-4:1/ Luke 9:28-36
2nd Sunday of Lent
Beloved you might be familiar with the saying that “the bigger the risk, the higher the returns” (on the investment). Similarly, the readings of this Sunday of Lent suggest the theme of this homily: “the Bigger the Sacrifice, the Greater the Miracle.”
Abram (Abraham) took the risk of leaving his fatherland and his place of comfort, and God blessed him with a new land – the Promised Land. Again, he risked his faith in Yahweh and was blessed with a miracle: a son, Isaac, given birth to by the centenarian’s ninety-year old wife, Sarah. Then, 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 beloved son, Isaac. Abraham took the risk and today Jews and non-Jews (including you and I) refer to him as our father in faith.
Similarly, underlying today’s gospel reading of the transfiguration is the message that “the Bigger the Sacrifice, the Greater the Miracle.” About two-and-half years before the transfiguration, Jesus, at the Sea of Galilee, asked Peter and his colleagues to make a sacrifice. They were to offer their boat as a “pulpit” to Jesus; remember that this was on a bad day of fishing expedition by Peter and his colleagues. This notwithstanding, they did not lament nor tell Jesus off; rather, they made the sacrifice, and in the end they enjoyed the miracle of probably the biggest fish catch in their fishing career! What made the miracle more amazing was the fact that it happened during the day time and not when it was dark as required for fishing!
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: the multiplication of loaves, sights given to the blind, lame made to walk, the dead raised to life, among others. The greatest miracle, however, 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. And so, 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. Consequently, to make the disciples ‘absorb’ the message of Christ’s sacrificial death, He made the core leadership of Peter, James and John taste the surpassing glory that would follow His crucifixion. In other words, on the mount of transfiguration Christ made the three apostles taste, for a short while, the glorious miracle which followed the greatest sacrifice!
Beloved, because of the greatest sacrifice of Jesus, you and I have access to the greatest miracle: our death shall be transfigured, not for a while, but for eternity, not on an earthly mountain, but in the glorious heaven itself! Let us prepare to celebrate this Easter with a special sense of gratitude to Jesus, and to his Father (who has lovingly offered his Son), and to the Holy Spirit (who gives us the faith to appreciate and accept these mysteries)! Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis