2nd Sunday of Lent
Genesis 15: 5 – 12, 17 – 19; Ps 27; Philippians 3: 17 – 4:1; Luke 9: 28b – 36
One of the greatest moments in the Story of Salvation is the exodus, the Passover of the Hebrew people from their enslavement in Egypt through the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea under the leadership of Moses. Later, after forty long years of wandering in the desert of Sinai there was another Passover under Josue when they crossed the Jordan River into the long awaited Promised Land. These Passovers were once and done but in God’s design they became a foreshadowing of other Passovers – the greatest being the Passover of the Lord Jesus which we commemorate in this holy season. In all three readings for this Mass a “passing over” is proclaimed to us.
In Genesis, in a very unusual and colorful ritual, God having promised Abraham that he will be the father of countless descendants enters into a covenant with him – an unconditional, unique, personal and most sacred relationship. By this covenant Abraham passed over into an intimate communion with God – one so profound that “a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.” We, too, have passed over into an intimate communion with our God – through our Baptism into the Body of Christ – probably not a terrifying experience but a very, very real Passover nonetheless – from being His creation to becoming His son or His daughter – a passing over that is meant to deepen, enfold, direct us in our life of grace, of union with our God all through our lives.
Writing of this Passover St. Paul reminds us of our identity in Christ: “…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 to His glorified body…” What does Baptism come to…what should it lead to – obviously, a passing over into the glory of the Risen/Ascended Christ – we know this as Eternal LIfe. Baptism begins the graced journey of our personal Passover that really has no end.
In the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we hear of a kind of passing over of Jesus Himself from His usual appearance to one of great glory, of dazzling brightness – and all the while Moses and Elijah speak of His exodus – of His final passing through death to resurrection – the Passover that exceeds any before or any after. Then the three disciples overshadowed by the cloud and graced by a voice enter into this mystery – they are profoundly encompassed and deeply affected by their passing over into the reality of the Transfigured Jesus – Baptismal Life, our life means being an insider, a participant, a sharer in the very life of the Lord – if it is not this, then it has no purpose, no meaning.
How does all this come about –how are we graced to not only believe this but also and especially, to live this Passover which is our life? As Passover people we gather for the Most Holy Eucharist – the Sacrament of sacraments, the Sacrament of passing over – journeying more and more into Christ and finally into eternal life.
In the very action of this Mass with the eyes of faith we witness a passing over of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ – as we know, the appearances, the accidents of bread and wine remain but the substance is radically changed into the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. At once the Holy Eucharist is meal and word – for our consuming and for our living each day.
For us the celebration and the reception of the Eucharist can never be an isolated event – a pious thing to do at mass and then move on as if it never happened. As men and women of faith we do not live our lives in convenient compartments with religion in one box and the rest of life in another. For us our precious Catholic faith is ONE – a seamless garment.
The Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Passover, is God’s extravagant gift to us and is absolutely necessary, essential for our personal passing over. It is at once an act of belief and desire and in addition, a serious commitment to pass, by God’s grace, from self-absorption, from sinfulness, from a narrow vision of life to a God inspired life of hope, of charity in all its forms, Without this commitment, and it is courageous, reception of the Holy Eucharist is reduced to mere external piety. And, God forbid, if this is our way, then all we have done is rewarded ourselves.
This holy season of Lent, this time of serious reflection, of prayer is given to us as a gift to take time to ponder on my/your actual living of faith, hope, charity – in prayer to look honestly into my/your heart how we live our personal Passover. Where is the Holy Eucharist in all this; what effect has it on my passing over into Eternal Life?