Gospel: Luke 9:28b-36
Imagine what we could accomplish…
Each year, our Lenten Gospel journey begins with talking about the forty days of preparation (see last week’s Gospel). We then confirm Christ’s divinity and anticipate what is to come in Jerusalem.
The transfiguration confirms that Christ will be the fulfillment of all scripture. Jesus meets with both Moses (the giver of the law) and Elijah (the great prophet who proclaimed the One true God) on the mountain. There is a foretaste of the Glory of God’s Kingdom in Jesus’ shining face and dazzling white garment. We hear a reaffirmation of Jesus’ true identity when the voice from the cloud says, “This is my Son, Listen to him.”
We can see ourselves in the actions of the disciples: as they go up the mountain (to a place of revelation); when they fall asleep at a key moment (at Gethsemane before Jesus is arrested); and when they fail to grasp the importance of what happened when they were on the mountain (Not knowing what he is saying, Peter suggests setting up three tents for Jesus, Elijah and Moses. According to Mark and Matthew, he then discusses Elijah on the way down the hill, despite having just witnessed God’s glory in Jesus himself).
In Luke’s account, we hear a detail not included in Mark or Matthew’s versions: that Jesus, Moses and Elijah were in discussion about what Jesus was to ‘accomplish’ in Jerusalem. Not what would happen to him, nor what he would endure, but what he would accomplish. Jesus needed courage to come down from the mountain and face what was next: suspicion, persecution, torture and finally death. He knew he had to do this to defeat death on our behalf.
Echoing his example, we are called to go forth from the safety of our Sunday celebrations and to live with courageous love in the world. We are called to face our daily tasks with great love, to see our sisters and brothers with great compassion, and to accomplish the work of building the community Christ envisioned.
To do this requires not just acts of charity (such as feeding the hungry and comforting the afflicted), but also works of justice (building a re-ordered society to serve the common good; placing the wellbeing of people above profit). It requires that we awaken to the impact of scripture and to the call of Christ’s in our current environment. It requires that we look not at what it will cost us, but at what we will accomplish in the service of God.
If we reflect on the journey of forced migrants, we can see connections to our own lives. For instance, Development and Peace’s partner Social Action is seeking reparation and justice for the Umuechem community. In 1990, the residents of Umuechem engaged in a peaceful march calling for fair compensation from an oil company that had been exploiting oil on their land for 30 years. The march was met with violence from police forces that led to more than 300 deaths and destroyed nearly 500 homes. (Watch a testimonial video here.)
The human cost of resource extraction in this case calls us to question the cost of our own lifestyles on the Earth and the poor. To live justly requires that we reduce our footprint on the Earth; that we seek goods that are sourced in environmentally and socially responsible ways; that we acknowledge the face of those who have been hurt; and, that we ensure their wellbeing. It may cost us convenience and require that we live a simpler lifestyle. Yet we must do this to ensure our sisters and brothers are able to thrive as we build the Kingdom of God.
New for our 2019 Share Lent campaign, we are offering six weekly reflections that connect the proposed Gospel readings for the Sunday liturgy with our campaign theme. They will be published every Monday on our website or are accessible in the Resources section. Share the Journey with us!
Get your pencils ready!
For families with young children, we invite you to discover the weekly Gospel reflections of the 2019 Family Bulletin. Each reflection is accompanied by an illustration. Click on the image to download the illustration and reflection for this Sunday.