The Bishops Homily – 2nd Sunday of Lent

2nd Sunday of Lent
Gen. 12:1-4A
II Tim. 1:8B-10
Mt. 17:1-9

INTRODUCTION: Our magnificent 1st Reading this weekend from the beginning of Gen. 12 serves as a sequel to last Sunday’s homily. In order to appreciate this passage, let us see what happened before Gen. 12 after the Fall when Adam and Eve, representing humanity, at the decisive moment of history, refused to listen to God, arrogating to themselves, their egos, the determination of right and wrong, the criterion of judging good and evil.

(1) What happened after the Fall in Gen. 3? Humanity steps from the Garden of Eden into a desert, evoking the idea of Land of Exile. Eden becomes a desert! What happened after the Fall between Genesis 4 and 11? We find the story of Cain and Abel (Gen. 4); the Floods (Gen. 6) and then the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11). In other words, we find jealousy, rivalry, anger, murder, imperialism, arrogance, drunkenness; indeed, a wickedness that spreads over the entire face of the earth. Where do these permutations of human dysfunctions come from? From the primal problem of refusing to listen to the voice of God; of human beings’ no more acting according to their proper identity as stewards, and viceroys and priests as God intended them to be but now acting as kings and masters (gods) of the whole creation. As St. Augustine says: “When we sin, we lose the image and likeness of God and journey to the land of dissimilitude.” We are no longer like unto God!

(2) What does God do then, when His Creation has been disrupted and human beings no longer His viceroys and priests? He sends a rescue operation! His rescue operation is going to come in the form of a people trained to listen once again to the voice of the Lord. The first thing we read in Genesis 12 is “God said to Abram: “Leave your Country . . . for the Land I will show you. . . I will bless you and make you a great Nation.” The entire history of salvation hinges on the question: “Will Abram listen? “And the story of Abram ends: “So Abram went as the Lord directed him.” It is as if the whole of Creation makes a sigh of relief that finally Abram begins a people, called Israel or God’s Chosen People, who listens to the voice of God as his viceroys and priests. God’s grace can flow again on the world. Abram begins the story of the likes of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Elijah, Jeremiah, Esther, Ruth, Mary, Peter, James, John, Paul — all spiritual descendants of Abraham!

(3) Flash forward 1500 years after Abraham to the time when a rabbi, climbing a mountain in the Holy Land that God has shown to Abraham and suddenly his countenance metamorphosed/transfigured into dazzlingly white before his disciples who were told: “This is my Beloved Son . . . Listen to him.” Once more the disciples of Jesus are being told to listen to the Incarnate Son of God! This is the Church descended from Abraham to Jesus transfigured to us Christians of the present time! That is why during Lent, the Church recommends PRAYER which is the attentive listening to God. God speaks to us even now like following directions from a voice in the web called waze.

CONCLUSION: Listening to God as in prayer is like following directions from a voice at the waze. If we do that, we become really and truly sons and daughters of Abraham; children of God like Adam and Eve back in the Garden of Eden before the Fall!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches