Francis of Assisi
556 South Jersey Street;
Denver, CO 80224
National Catholic Church (PNCC)
St. Francis of Assisi Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) @2008
In today’s first and second readings, we’re reminded of our necessity to focus attention on commitment to sacrifice and the suffering and self-mortification associated with sacrifice during the season of Lent. In the book of Genesis reading the Lord instructed Abram to leave his home and his country, to face the dangers and difficulties of setting up a home among "strangers". The Lord required him to go and live among those who were, at that time, his enemies. Abram went as the Lord directed him. He made his commitment to the Lord knowing the sacrifice he was making and the suffering he would face.
In the second reading Paul reminds Timothy of the necessity of suffering for the Gospel, if he’s to preach it effectively. Matthew's gospel, on the other hand, is a source of encouragement, an incitement to be willing to suffer for a brief period because of the glory that will come later on. In Chapter 16:21 25 of Matthew’s Gospel preceding today’s reading, Jesus warned his disciples he must suffer and be humiliated. They had no concept of what Jesus was talking about. In order to strengthen them and prepare them for the scandal of the cross, and what would be perceived as his failure, Jesus gives his three leading disciples a brief glimpse of his future glory.
The vision they see is a contrast to the agony they will witness in the garden on Holy Thursday night. Peter, James and John were the only witnesses on this "mountain apart", as Matthew calls it. The transfiguration they saw was a brief glimpse of Jesus’ future glory. This momentary vision of Jesus, in his glory, was given in order to strengthen these three principal Apostles to face the trials to their faith which the sufferings and crucifixion of their beloved master would bring on them. It is for this very same reason it’s retold each year in the early part of Lent, to encourage us to persevere in our Lenten mortification’s. It reminds us that, very soon, the Easter bells will be ringing out their message of joy once more.
St. Paul tells us, if we’re sharers with Christ in his sufferings, We’ll also be sharers with him in his glory. This is a truth we too easily for¬get. Our time on earth is given us by our heavenly Father to earn our eternal reward. This reward surpasses even the wildest imagination of man. There’s no way we could ever earn it, but God in his infinite mercy accepts the little we can do. And yet there’re many, far too many, who refuse even that little bit that’s asked of them. In doing so they’re not partaking in God's plan for their eternal happiness. Can they, by ignoring God and their duties toward him, remove all pain, sorrow, sufferings, from their daily lives? Death, which is a total separation from all we possess and cherish in this world, is waiting around the corner for all of us. Who can face it more calmly and confidently – the person who’s firmly convinced that it’s the gateway to a new life, and who’s done their very best to earn admis¬sion through that gateway, or the person who’s acted all their life as if death didn’t exist for them, and who’s done everything to have the gate to the new life shut forever in their face?
The answer to this question should be a no-brainer for us. Illnesses and troubles and disappoint¬ments are the lot of everyone. They don’t respect wealth, power or position. The people who know their pur¬pose in life, and are ever striving to reach the goal God has planned for them, can and will see in these trials of life the hand of a kind father who is pre¬paring them for greater things. Their suffer¬ings become understandable and more bearable because of their attitude toward life and its meaning. The people who ignore God and try to close the eyes of their mind to the real facts of life have nothing to support or console them in their hours of sorrow and pain.
Jesus has asked us to follow him, carrying our daily cross knowing the end of our journey isn’t Calvary but resurrec¬tion and entrance to a life of glory with our risen Savior. Christians who grasp their cross closely and willingly, knowing its value for their real life, will find it becomes lighter and as it was with Simon of Cyrene, it will not be a burden but a joy. Those who try to cast off their cross, and who curse and rebel against him who sent it, will find it doubles its weight and loses all the value it was intended to have for their true welfare. I suggest each of you today open your eyes, open your arms, open your hearts and embrace the vision and the light of the Transfiguration. Let the thought of the Transfiguration encourage you today, to do the little God demands so that when you pass out of this life you may be assured of seeing Christ in his glory welcoming you into his everlasting and glorious kingdom.
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March 12th - 2nd Sunday of Lent- A 2017