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Forging into Uncharted Territory ...

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 27(26):8-9 —“Of You my heart has spoken: Seek His face. It is Your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not Your face from me.”

First Reading: Gn 12:1-4a — “The call of Abraham, the father of God’s people."

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22 — “Lord, let Your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in You.”

Second Reading: 2 Tim 1:8b-10 — “God has saved us and called us to be holy.”

Verse before the Gospel: Mt 17:5 — “From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard: This is My beloved Son, hear Him.”

Gospel: Mt 17:1-9 —“Jesus’ face shone like the sun.”

Communion Antiphon: Mt 17:5 — “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.

A woman was preparing for a vacation in Greece. Because she knew that the liturgical readings might be different, she called a local Greek Orthodox church, which graciously offered to provide her with the correct readings. The secretary told her she just had to go to Mass at the Church of Saint Metamorphosis. Saint Metamorphosis? Puzzled, the woman asked who that saint was, and the answer was “Holy Transfiguration.” Of course! Total change is called for. Encountering the Holy in Athens reminded this woman of our constant call to be go to new places, to have new experiences, to face new realities, and to be challenged out of our comfort zone. New life can only come from looking at things in a new way.

In this weekend’s First Reading, God invited Abram to go forward into a new way of life. God is telling each one of us to go forward as well. God is always telling us to go – He’s telling us to go from where we are most comfortable: away from familiar beliefs, away from familiar ideas, away from familiar surroundings, and away from familiar people. God’s command to go includes a promise, like Abram's, to make us a great nation, not a new government, but a new kingdom of acceptance without the excluding of anyone but instead the incorporating everyone. God gives a command but no blueprint for how it should happen. Remember the old Nike commercial? God is telling us to“Just do it, and I will be guiding you on the way. And you will be the hope for the future.” God gives us faith, trust, patience, and the ability to muddle through amid the dark. So ask yourselves this: To what new place, physical or spiritual, do you think God is leading you this Lent?

And another detail to consider. If you think about it, this weekend’s Gospel should be introduced by, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” As a result of the Transfiguration, we are called to head into uncharted territory. Some respond affirmatively to God’s call, while some do not. Why has God chosen us? Why has God chosen you? Not because we are better, not because we are smarter, or not because we are holier. God calls us simply because we are. Thus, we should each recognize that God’s love is calling us to do something. God calls all of us to a new way of thinking ... of changing our ideas about what reality can be. When we really listen to the Gospel and Jesus’ preaching, then we know that our world hardly reflects God’s vision. Just turn on the news. Just open the newspaper. Just scan the internet. Just look around you. When Jesus saw injustice, He literally groaned with compassion from the depths of His soul. Perhaps compassion is the one virtue we should all embrace more generously this Lent. Who knows? It might help all of us to overcome the venom in our airways and the venom we possess (but shouldn't) in some of our human encounters.

The imagery of the Transfiguration takes us to a crossroad. The three disciples had a unique encounter with Jesus. They saw His glorified body, They had a foretaste of the Resurrection. And they had to make a decision: they could stay there worshipping Jesus or they could go out to the whole world with the message of His teachings. As important as our prayerful encounters with God are, when you truly think about them, they are never only for ourselves. They bring us more fully into a godlike way of being. If they are genuine encounters, then we can’t remain on the mountain: We have to go back down to preach the Good News ... by what we say, by what we do, by how we act. Although the disciples wanted to stay there and build tents, Jesus says the time of action has come. Go down the mountain. Forget about permanent tents for God to dwell in. Go into the transitory tents of human hearts where God truly dwells. Take your tents down, using them to cover the people desperately in need of God’s spiritual and physical care. Then we will be involved in the greatest building project in history.

As Jesus was transfigured on the mountaintop, may our lives be totally changed this Lent into the likeness of Jesus for everyone around us to see.

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