FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK:
My Dear Parishioners,
In the ancient city of Jerusalem, the golden Dome of the Rock dominates the ancient skyline. That gold encrusted dome covers a Muslim mosque and a site that is sacred, not only to believers in Islam, but to Christians and Jewish people, as well. Beneath the floor of the sanctuary is a large rock. Archaeologists and biblical scholars believe this rock is the Mount of Moriah, where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac, which we heard about in today’s first reading. Not far from there is the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the rock of Calvary, where God sacrificed his only Son for our sins. Moriah and Calvary are joined together as unique examples of sacrificial love.
Paul posed the question to the Romans, in today’s second reading, If God is for us, who can be against us? Abraham must have wondered whether God was for him or against him when he was instructed to take his son and go to the land of Moriah to offer sacrifice. Becoming a father was the answer to prayers that Abraham had offered for more than eighty years. God heard him and gave him a son when he was almost one hundred years old. Now that same God was asking that the gift be returned. Abraham is rightly called our father in faith because he does not doubt, nor does he question. He faithfully sets out to do the Father’s will, no matter how much it will cost him.
Pleased with Abraham’s display of faith, God sends an angel to stop the sacrifice, and Abraham is forever blessed for his faithfulness. Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac on Moriah is unmistakably connected to God the Father’s willingness to sacrifice his only Son for our salvation at Calvary.
That sacrifice was predicted by Jesus three times before it actually came about. The first time he does so in Mark’s Gospel occurs shortly before this passage about the Transfiguration. Though Jesus spoke of death, he also promised that he would rise on the third day, but the Resurrection meant nothing to His disciples at the time. They knew only that their master was going to die and they could not do anything to stop it. The Transfiguration, in effect, is a means of reassuring Peter, James, and John about the deeper meaning of the life and death of Jesus. It was to bring about new life.
At the Transfiguration, the Apostles are privileged to receive a glimpse of how Jesus will appear in resurrected glory. They are amazed and terrified at the same time. God speaks from the heavens, just as he did during the baptism of Jesus. He tells them, This is my beloved Son. Listen to him. The Apostles may still not fully understand who Jesus is or what he is about, but there is no doubt that he is God’s Son. Their faith is strengthened and the long way of the Cross, the journey to Jerusalem, continues. As we continue our journey through this Lenten season, we seek to share in the Transfiguration of Jesus. He was the same person, fully divine and fully human, and yet completely changed by the grace and power of God. Through acts of prayer, penance, fasting, and self-denial, we remain the same person, with the potential for great change, thanks to the mercy of God. The Apostle’s perspective on their life and mission changed completely during their time atop Mount Tabor. We pray that our life and sense of mission may be strengthened by our Lenten observance.
All God’s Blessings,