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2019 Lenten Reflections - 2nd Sunday of Lent

Michael Macaluso, Ph.D. on Sunday, 17 March 2019.

Read this Sunday's Gospel

Welcome to the second Sunday of Lent.

This week’s Gospel offers a stark contrast in tone and substance from last week’s, when we saw Jesus wandering in the desert, tempted at every turn by the devil himself. This week, Peter, John, and James go to a mountaintop to pray with Jesus, then witness Christ with Moses and Elijah. They hear a voice from heaven proclaim, “This is my son,” and Jesus stands bathed in dazzling white, shrouded in resplendent glory.

This is Jesus transfigured.

Despite this dramatic moment, the Gospel notes that the disciples “had been overcome by sleep” during their prayers with Jesus. They weren’t expecting the extraordinary, and as a result, they actually miss some of the transfiguration. It may be baffling for us to think that the disciples can fall asleep in the presence of Christ, and this detail makes me wonder about the times we have been metaphorically overcome by sleep – whether due to lack of faith, routine prayer life, worldly distractions, exhaustion, or even sin and temptation – and therefore miss out on the everyday, transfigured moments of Jesus in our lives.

At the same time, I wonder if our sleep is the result of our faith and confidence in redemption and the Resurrection. This passage clearly foreshadows for us what we know is already coming: the risen Christ on Easter Sunday. We are expecting it, in other words. And so, it’s easy for us to wait until Easter to celebrate the miracle of life in the risen Lord. The disciples, I think, would be just as baffled that we could take this for granted.

And so, this Gospel reminds us, indeed impels us, that we should not be overcome by sleep and wait until Easter to witness everyday grace. In addition to fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, the season of Lent is just as much a time to watch for the simple, the profound, and the transcendent in our lives.

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