May joy and peace fill your hearts!
The readings this weekend may catch us off guard a little bit but on a closer look, they are filled with consolation!
Abraham lived with the kind of faith and hope that we are encouraged to imitate. God made a covenant with him and kept it. But there came a time when Abraham’s faith was tested. He had to believe that God would keep it even in a situation where it looked like God wouldn’t. Abraham gives us an example of how to grow in faith and trust in God.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is filled with faith because it reminds them that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ . . . who will change our lowly body to conform to his glorified body.” Paul’s faith filled vision of heavenly glory became an inspiration and strength to the Church at Philippi. The Philippians had always been supportive of Paul financially and otherwise but they were experiencing some tensions that could cause divisions. From prison, Paul expresses his loving concern as a pastor and instructs the community to guard their unity in Christ with humility and charity. He reminds them of their heavenly goal to give them strength.
The account of Jesus’ Transfiguration with a few of his disciples is intended to console and strengthen them in their faith just before they see him horribly disfigured by crucifixion. They hear the voice from heaven declaring Jesus as the chosen Son and they experience seeing Jesus resplendent in glory, dazzling in radiant beauty.
During Lent, we don’t often have “mountain top experiences” or mystical trance-like encounters with God. Although we do pray more and are accompanied by the Spirit, it is more common for us to become painfully aware of our failings and weaknesses. The readings this weekend lift us up to focus, not on our faults, but on God’s faithful covenant promise and what we will become by God’s love and mercy. We continue in our Lenten Journey to our own transfiguration and transformation by dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ! God bless you! +++ Fr. Peter