Second Sunday of Lent, Year A

Posted on March 3, 2023 View all Gospel Reflection

Peter was talking, but yielded to the voice from heaven and listened.

The word translated “obey” in the Old Testament means “to hear.”

Abram listened. God said, “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”

God gave no details to Abram. He rarely does. It’s never as specific as we would like in our journey of faith and hope.

We are like Abram insofar as we don’t know what’s ahead for us in the next decades but we called to a trustful relationship with God.

The Catechism teaches that the transfiguration reveals that Jesus will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to “enter into his glory.” #555

Elizabeth Palmer said, “You know that Transfiguration sermon that exhorts us to appreciate the [temporary] mountaintop beauty only for a moment before we descend into the world’s brokenness, joining Jesus in the way of suffering? I used to like hearing that sermon…

 This year it’s the last thing I want to hear. I don’t need anyone to tell me to descend the mountain. I slid down months ago, and I haven’t been able to find my way back up.”

[Source: The Transfiguration sermon I need (Matthew 17:1-9), There is no “on the mountain” and “off the mountain” by Elizabeth Palmer February 24, 2017, The Christian Century]

Glory in Hebrew means “heavy, weighty, to be of great substance.” God is a heavyweight! This is a weight that makes everything in life lighter.

As Palmer says, “it’s a heavy touch that acknowledges the suffering and sin intrinsic to the human condition–and yet, it is at the same time a healing touch that lets us know that we are not alone in the human condition. God is also in it with us, helping us bear the heaviness.”

The message is that Jesus is with us in both the glory and closeness and in our suffering. There is no “on the mountain” and “off the mountain” which can be explained by the virtue of equanimity.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says that in the virtue of patience, we are disposed us to bear present evils with equanimity in such a way as not to be inordinately cast down by them.

Equanimity is that, no matter what happens, it is going to be okay, maybe not the okay we wanted, but okay nonetheless.

[Source: Equanimity in the Buddhist and Christian Traditions, by Kathy Keary, March 29, 2021, Precious Blood Renewal Center, Missionaries of the Precious Blood Kansas City Province].

However, equanimity is a virtue but it does not apply to active pursuits and it is not the same as Buddhist non-judgmental awareness. As Daniel Berrigan explains,

 “…To the prophets of the Bible [equanimity]… would have been an absolutely foreign language and a foreign view of the human. The notion that one has to achieve peace of mind before stretching out one’s hand to one’s neighbor is a distortion of our human experience, and ultimately a dodge of our responsibility. Life is a rollercoaster, and one had better buckle one’s belt and take the trip. This focus on equanimity is actually a narrow-minded, selfish approach to reality dressed up within the language of spirituality.”

[Source: Daniel Berrigan, Essential Writings, by John Dear, Orbis Books, 2009].

If our primary emotional coping mechanism leads us to sin or overindulgence we get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed. However, if we can be in our body without trying to fill low-level anxiety with some substance, we will find that it’s transformational to fill the empty spaces with the Cross that leads to Glory.