you were well pleased with Abraham’s obedience and you accepted the sacrifice of your Son,
who gave himself up for the sake of us all.
Train us by Christ’s teaching
and school us in his obedience,
that, as we walk his way of sacrifice, we may come to share in your glory.
We ask this through Christ, our deliverance and hope,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, holy and mighty God for ever and ever.
Opening Prayer for the
2nd Sunday of Lent - B Cycle
From the 1998 ICEL Roman Missal
One of the memorable experiences of my early priesthood occurred during my first visit to the Holy Land while pursuing post-graduate studies in Europe. It was an absolutely stunningly beautiful Spring day when we visited Mt. Tabor, the place where tradition tells us the scene in today’s Gospel took place. Like latter day apostles of the Lord, our group left the buses that parked at the bottom of the mountain and we made our way by foot up to the Church of the Transfiguration. As our group reached the summit, we were treated to a breathtaking view of the countryside that seemed to go on forever. The highpoint of my visit, however, was the privilege to celebrate Mass in the small chapel dedicated to Elijah who is described in Mark’s account of the Transfiguration as “conversing with Jesus” together with Moses. To stand on this holy spot and to celebrate the Eucharist and speaking the Lord’s transforming words overly the simple earthly elements of bread and wine, is a grateful memory that remains with me still.
For the Lord’s closest disciples, Peter, James and John, their experience on this holy Mountain was not unlike the magnificent panoramic vista that I experienced on my first visit. It would have been only human for these companions of Jesus, the teacher and rabbi, to wonder in their heart of hearts, ‘who is this incredible person who spoke so powerfully about love and forgiveness, who cured the sick, and comforted the outcast and sinners?” Could he be the anointed of the Lord? Graced by a singular moment of insight, they were privileged to see the deepest reality of their master as the scriptures tell us that “he was transfigured before them.” The Evangelist, Mark, must have wrestled with that word as he attempted to articulate an experience that was undoubtedly far more profound than could conveyed with the poverty of words. These three disciples for one brief moment glimpsed the inner reality of Jesus as transcendent Lord and their lives would never be the same. This experience would give them the courage to continue to journey with him to Jerusalem and to experience the paradox of both the cross and tomb. Despite the all too human tragedy that Jesus would endure – they would not forget this moment. They would not lose heart as their hopes would ultimately be vindicated that first Easter morning when death would give way to new life in Jesus, the risen Savior of the world.
My friends, in the course of our own journeys of faith, there are times when we are graced to experience in ways beyond speech the Lord’s transcendent presence, touching our own lives and reassuring our hope and affirming our faith. It may be as simple as basking in the unconditional love of another, or the gift of forgiveness freely given and received. Maybe it is the exceptional and unexplained healing of a deep wound in mind or body or the daily freedom from some enslaving addiction because we have surrendered it to the God of freedom and healing. These simple moments can be for us our own moments of Transfiguration, assuring us that we never walk this journey alone. Reminding us that you and I have an eternal destiny of Glory with the Lord, who as St. Paul reminds us in our second reading, is always for us. And if that be the case who can be against us?