"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
March 20: Second Sunday of Lent
While the first reading looks forward to a future blessing, the second reading looks back to the moment when God restored that unity in Christ. This was God’s plan: a “design bestowed in Christ Jesus before time began.” The promise of God to Abraham—that all the nations of earth shall be blessed through him—was fulfilled in Christ. Those who are in Christ have been called, like Abraham, to a holy life according to God’s plan.
The Gospel reading on the second Sunday of Lent is always the Transfiguration. In the previous chapter Jesus had revealed for the first time that he was to suffer and die in Jerusalem. Peter, James and John are given a foretaste of heavenly glory to strengthen them for the trail that lies ahead. The voice from heaven, “This is my beloved Son,” confirms Peter’s confession of faith in the previous chapter. When the disciples saw him transfigured they fell prostrate—an act of worship and adoration. Jesus reassures the disciples saying: “Rise. Do not be afraid.”
Key verse: “And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun” (Mt 17: 2).
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he ‘will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.’ But it also recalls that ‘it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.’” (No. 556).
Pope Benedict XVI: “The appearance of his glory is connected with the Passion motif. Jesus’ divinity belongs with the cross—only when we put the two together do we recognize Jesus correctly. John expressed this intrinsic interconnectedness of cross and glory when he said that the cross is Jesus’ ‘exaltation’ and that his exaltation is accomplished in no other way than in the cross.”
Life application: The transfiguration of Jesus gave the disciples a vision of heavenly glory to strengthen them for the journey ahead. Every Mass is, in a way, a kind of “transfiguration” that gives us a foretaste of heavenly glory where Christ is exalted. The Eucharist sustains us in our Lenten observances and strengthens us to bear the trials and tribulations of life as we look forward in hope to our heavenly home.
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