March 5, 2023
Sister Anne Madeleine Brost, OSB shares a reflection on the scripture readings: Genesis 12:1-4a; 2 Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9
The transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain with the disciples Peter, James, and John is the Gospel reading for the second Sunday in Lent in all three cycles of Sunday scripture readings. The message is the same each year: Listen to Him. Listen to Jesus, connect with him.
This year the first reading is Genesis 12. Abram listens to God, hears what God says, and follows what God asks. He is transformed into Abraham, the father of a nation.
The second reading is from the first chapter of 2nd Timothy. Paul, or whoever wrote the letter, lets the readers know that listening and following Jesus may be difficult sometimes. He also says that this listening to God and doing what God asks is a gift to us. Our hearing and responding to the Divine is a gift. Not a reward, a gift.
A reward is the result of something I work toward. I win a reward. A trip for selling the most tickets to the school play; a box of candy for adopting the most pagan babies (the practice in earlier years of giving money to foreign missions so non-Catholic children could be raised Catholic). I win a reward.
A gift is something different. Did you ever receive a gift you did not like? My godmother gave me a book of fairy tales. I wanted stories of real people. But when I began to read the Fairy tales I was “hooked” on them, especially the Chronicles of Narnia.
When I receive a gift, I must be prepared to see it as the Giver does. Most humans appreciate the gift of Life, but sometimes we do not like to use our gift as the Giver wants us to. Sometimes we would rather do what we please and tell the boss to “jump in the lake.”
Michael Casey, OCSO, writes of Karl Rahner’s conclusion about the gift God gives to humans: “…only a human can be described as a ‘hearer of the word.’ This title refers not merely to our ability to make use of language but, more especially, our capacity to hear the Word who is beyond all words—the self-revelation of God. As human beings, we are open to receive the gift of God’s self-outpouring and, so, to enter into dialogue and communion with God.”
And that is the great gift of being human. To be in dialogue with the Divine and with each other. To connect, to know God and each other. To know that our living is God’s living.
What is written in scripture is what humans have considered as God’s means of connecting with us, and our connecting with God and one another. Abram received God’s gift and was the revelation of the Divine to Isaac and all his descendants.
The transfiguration of Jesus was God’s way of encouraging Peter, James, and John to hear Jesus’ message. God’s Love was allowed to show in physical form what following Jesus would do to them.
So perhaps this triple reading of the Transfiguration story is meant to tell us what we will experience when we truly “hear the Word of God.” We become more human as our awareness grows. We enter into dialogue and communion with God. We receive the gift of God’s out-pouring love; we experience our own evolution in this self-revelation of God. Not only will the Divine be revealed to us, we will see the Divine in each other and in ourselves, and in our evolving Community of Sisters, Oblates, and friends. Little by little, year by year, day by day, I get more “hooked” on this Gift of Life. I am sure you do, too.