We live by faith, not sight, but treasure experiences of God's personal love

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

“Twins, a sister and brother were talking to each other in the womb. The little sister said to the little brother, ‘I believe that there is life after birth!’ Her brother protested: ‘No, no, this is all there is. This is a dark and cozy place, and we have nothing else to do but to cling on to the cord that feeds us.’ But the little girl insisted: ‘There must be something more than this dark place, there must be something else where there is light and freedom to move.’ Still she could not convince her twin brother. Then...after some silence, she said hesitantly: ‘I have something else to say, and I am afraid you won’t believe that either, but I think there is a mother!’ Her little brother now became furious: ‘A mother, a mother, what are you talking about? I have never seen a mother and neither have you. Who put that idea in your head? As I told you, this place is all we have so let’s be content.’ The little sister finally said: ‘Don’t you feel this pressure sometimes? Its really unpleasant and sometimes even painful.’ ‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘what’s special about that?’ ‘Well,’ the sister said, ‘I think this pressure is there to get us ready for another place, much more beautiful than this, where we will see our mother face to face! Don’t you think that’s exciting!”
(Unfortunately I do not know the source.)

In that story the twin brother did not believe there was anything beyond what he could see and hear and touch while his twin sister believed there was a life beyond what she could see and hear and touch, that there was a mother even though she could not see her. In the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John saw that there was more to Jesus than what they could see and hear and touch, they got a glimpse of the future glory of Jesus’ resurrection. It was an extraordinary privilege. Our celebration of Jesus’ Transfiguration during Lent reminds us of the glory of Jesus risen from the dead after the cross. It reminds us that the penance of Lent will give way to the joy of Easter. We, however, are like the twin sister in the story, we believe even though we do not see. In one of his letters Paul wrote, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7), meaning that even though we do not see God, nevertheless we believe. We walk by faith not by sight. On the other hand, there are times when God does send us his consolations and we get little glimpses of God’s presence in our lives and his love for us. These are little transfigurations that keep us going when times are tough. I am quite sure that almost everyone here has had some personal experience with God.  Why? Because God is a personal God, not a distant God. God wants us to know him. But because these are personal experiences of God’s love normally we do not speak of them just as Peter, James and John did not speak of the transfiguration after they came down the mountain. Even though normally we walk by faith and not sight we are very grateful for those times of consolation, those personal experiences of God’s love and presence. From time to time we need them either because our cross weighs heavy at that time or we another disasters or dreadful accident has taken place. During times like this we need more than ever to remember those special moments when God showed us his personal love for us.

Those personal experiences of God’s love remind us that heaven is our destiny and that we too like Jesus will be transfigured after death. In the second reading today Paul wrote,

 “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body ...” (Phil 3:20-21)

The transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain is also awaiting each of us after death. Why can we look forward to being transfigured after death like Jesus? Because we are baptized. When we were baptized God put his seal on us. What was that seal? The Holy Spirit. We were sealed with the Holy Spirit on the day we were baptized. We were marked out as God’s property, belonging to God. Let us hold our heads high. When the media or your friends criticize the Church and make you look foolish because you are still a practicing Catholic, hold your head high. Because you have been baptized Jesus will transfigure our wretched bodies into copies of his glorious body. Can the media do that for you? No. They have not put the seal of the Holy Spirit on you. They have not marked you out for God, as God’s property. They have not claimed you for God as his son or daughter. But when you were baptized you were sealed with the Holy Spirit as God’s own child.

On the mountain Peter, James and John had a privileged experience of Jesus’ transfiguration. Instead we are like the girl in the womb, living by faith and not by sight, believing that there is more to life than meets the eye. Therefore we can hold our heads high because we were sealed with God’s Holy Spirit on the day we were baptized. We treasure those moments - little transfigurations - when we experience God’s personal love for us, knowing that they tell us heaven is our destiny and that Jesus will transfigure our wretched bodies into copies of his glorious body.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Second Sunday of Lent Year C

Lent is a time to see Jesus with new eyes 2010

Jesus' Transfiguration - a Lesson in Prayer 2016

Related Homilies: The Transfiguration, look beyond present suffering to the presence of God

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