February 21, 2024 at 11:19 a.m.

Call to transformation

WORD OF FAITH: A breakdown of each week's upcoming Sunday readings to better understand the Word of God at Mass.
WORD OF FAITH: A breakdown of each week's upcoming Sunday readings to better understand the Word of God at Mass.

By Sister Linda Neil, CSJ | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment


“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” — 

Rom 8:31-32

As we travel along this Lenten journey, our readings call us to transformation. We see the power of transformation in the life of Abraham. When God called Abram and Sarai, they were living in Haran and were probably following polytheistic ways. God forged a relationship with them over long years and many trials, hardships and joys. They remained faithful as evidenced by their names being changed to Abraham and Sarah. 

The story of Abraham’s test shows his deep trust and faith in God. Isaac was the child of the promise, the child of the covenant bond between God and Abraham. Now, God asks the unthinkable: offer Isaac as a sacrifice! Is Abraham’s transformation into a true man of God, into a true follower of the covenant strong enough to do this deed? Yes, he will follow God’s command! We might pause here and ask questions about this “testing.” There are different ways to consider the story. Does God test us, or does life hold challenges that God helps us to meet and overcome? Do we only draw close to God in difficult situations? Our transformation into a person of faithful love and deep relationship with God goes through all the ups and downs of life. Staying true to this relationship is what God desires most. This is what Abraham did. 

The Gospel also shows us powerful examples of the transformation of the disciples into faithful followers of Jesus. They have just experienced Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and they heard the hard news that Jesus had to suffer and die and rise. They had been told that to be a disciple, they must deny themselves and take up their cross to follow Jesus. Jesus’ teachings in words and deeds are difficult, and the journey to become a loving and accepting person like their teacher was arduous and sometimes confusing.

Jesus leads them up a high mountain, apart. There, his glory shines forth and they experience Jesus as he truly is — the fulfillment of all God’s promises, the Messiah. As Jesus conversed with Moses and Elijah, did the disciples reflect on all the trials that those two men had to overcome? Moses and Elijah had gone through their own transformations. The burden of being faithful to the covenant when life was pressing in on all sides must have been strenuous. Their faith was forged in the furnace of dealing with personal trials and leadership challenges. Through it all, they remained faithful, not perfect certainly, but true to their relationship with Adonai. The witness of these men was powerful, but in this moment, the disciples were awestruck and amazed by Jesus; this was so much more than they could ever hope for! 

Jesus’ transfiguration was a spectacular stop along the road to another mountain — Golgotha. His brilliant glory would remind them and spur them on when they were faced with the horror of the suffering and death of Jesus. But, the crucifixion would not be the last word. The glory that they basked in would be what finally awaited Jesus and all of them. Now they had to grapple with the distress on the way to the glory. Their own transformation followed this path as they worked each day to be true to the loving path of the beatitudes and the kingdom of God. 

Lent is an opportunity to attend to our transformation into Christ — to put on the heart and mind of Christ. This isn’t a self-help project; it is a relationship. Jesus shows us the way. He is the way. He holds out grace and mercy. His desire for us is to be authentic “disciples” — those who hear his voice and follow his way. His desire is for us to draw near to him and experience the joys and trials of life with him.


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