Sunday Church At Home, 2nd Sunday in Lent, Cycle C

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Sunday Church At Home, 13th March, 20

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

It Is Difficult To Give Up One’s Life in Love.

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader:          In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply:       Amen

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply:       Blessed be God for ever

Leader:          Jesus is transfigured on Mount Tabor, an earnest of future glory. A voice from heaven tells the disciples that Jesus is the Father’s Chosen One.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Genesis 15:5-12.17-18

Introduction to the reading: This passage recounts the making of a covenant between God and Abraham. Ancient Near-Eastern people often established a covenant by cutting animals in half and setting the halves opposite each other. The participants then walked in the blood flowing between the halves, thereby establishing a blood relationship. But the covenant we will hear about today involves God, who will participate in a more dramatic way.

A reading from the Book of Genesis.

In those days:
God brought Abram outside and said,
“Look toward heaven, and number the stars,
if you are able to number them.”
Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
And he believed the Lord,
and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.

And he said to him,
“I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans,
to give you this land to possess.”

But he said, “O Lord God,
how am I to know that I shall possess it?”

He said to him,
“Bring me a heifer three years old,
a she-goat three years old,
a ram three years old,
a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

And he brought him all these,
cut them in two,
and laid each half over against the other;
but he did not cut the birds in two.
And when birds of prey came down upon the carcasses,
Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down,
a deep sleep fell on Abram;
and behold, a dread and great darkness fell upon him.

When the sun had gone down and it was dark,
behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch
passed between these pieces.
On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,
“To your descendants, I give this land,
from the river of Egypt to the great river,
the river Euphrates.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27:1.7-8b.8c-9abc.13-14 (R. 1a)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
whom should I dread?

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer me.
Of you my heart has spoken,
“Seek his face.”

It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face from me.
Dismiss not your servant in anger;
you have been my help.

I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong;
be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord!

R/. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Second reading: Philippians 3:17 – 4:1

Introduction to the reading:  The ancient city of Philippi was located in what is today north-eastern Greece. Paul’s community of converts at Philippi was especially dear to him. In this section of his letter to them, Paul is upset – but not with them. He has heart that false teachers have come to the community, teaching that Jewish food laws and the rite of circumcision applied even to Christians.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians.

Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me
and mark those who so walk as you have an example in us.
For many, of whom I have often told you
and now tell you even with tears,
walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction,
their god is the belly,
and they glory in their shame,
with minds set on earthly things.But our commonwealth is in heaven,
and from it, we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,
who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body,
by the power which enables him
even to subject all things to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
whom I love and long for,
my joy and crown,
stand firm in this way in the Lord, my beloved.

The Word of the Lord.

Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
From the shining cloud, the Father’s voice is heard:
this is my Beloved Son, hear him.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

Gospel:         Luke 9:28b-36

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

At that time:
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James
and went up on the mountain to pray.
And as he was praying,
the appearance of his countenance was altered,
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus,
which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Now Peter and those who were with him
were heavy with sleep but kept awake,
and they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
And as the men were parting from him,
Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is well that we are here;
let us make three booths,
one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—
not knowing what he said.

As he said this,
a cloud came and overshadowed them;
and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying,
“This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

And when the voice had spoken,
Jesus was found alone.
And they kept silence and told no one in those days
anything of what they had seen.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Today with Peter, James and John, we climb a mountain with Jesus.

The story begins with prayer and this tells us that something important is about to happen – for the disciples, but also for us. And so we do what disciples should do: we are alert and we listen.

Quickly the vision happens: two of the greatest figures of the story of Israel appear to speak to Jesus about what awaits him in Jerusalem. They were not there to have a theological discussion. This is not a time for speculation, but a time to face reality. Moses and Elijah are there, like the angels of the garden in Gethsemane, to help Jesus face what is before him. He is about to enter “his exodus.” 

The word exodus immediately takes us back to formative moment in the history of the people of Israel. In the exodus, God took the initiative to lead an enslaved people to freedom. It was a journey that would take them through the desert where they would come to an intimate knowledge of God. God would be their strength in weakness… their daily food in hunger and, God would ultimately lead them to the promised land. In the desert, God would accomplish their exodus not because they were strong, or because they knew the way through the desert, or would have the answers to all their questions.

God accomplished their exodus because in the desert they would come to know and trust the God whose name was revealed to Moses as, “I am who am” – that is – “I am the one who will always be there for you.”

Let’s not romanticize Israel’s desert travels as we look back from our safe distance of thousands of years. Scripture tells us of their daily temptations and their complaints against Moses and God. They were tired of their journey, the daily struggles, the uncertainty and, with each passing day, they feared and questioned – “Will tomorrow be the day when we loose our way and perish in the desert?”

The temptations were strong, and it seemed only logical to turn back – back to the place of slavery and security. There, at least, they had some food, some knowledge of what each day would bring. They knew the routine of the days and what was expected of them. The desert offered them none of these assurances. The desert could only offer them uncertainty, risk, hardship, with the hope of freedom.

Yet, it was in the desert they would discover that God would fulfill a promise made to them. God would live up to God’s name, “I am the one who will always be there for you.” And so God did provide them daily bread and water when they were hungry and thirsty… enough for the day… day by day… until they reached the promised land.

Soon after his Transfiguration, Jesus will resolutely set his face towards Jerusalem. In that journey to Jerusalem, Jesus would experience desertion from those closest to him, the failure of his plans, and finally he would surrender himself to death on the cross. After that desert journey, God would raise him up. His exodus would be complete.

Unlike the Israelites in the desert, Jesus would stay faithful to his call, trust in God and surrender all into God’s hands. That’s what Moses and Elijah were speaking to Jesus about. That’s what Jesus would accomplish in Jerusalem.

This Lent we are called to spend time in prayer and conversation with God. With the disciples we have entered into a cloud – a holy presence. Like the disciples, we don’t always get it. But a word has been spoken to us. A word that gives us clear direction. “This is my chosen one. Listen to him.”

And we know what listening involves. It begins with a prayerful silence – a deliberate silence – when we attentively listen to the word of God, both in the scriptures and to one another.

We are listening for a voice who calls us out from what enslaves or traps us, and invites us into the desert, where we hear God’s voice more clearly. That same voice speaks a word of hope and reassurance to us. The One who says: “I am the One who will always be there for you,” – feeds us with a bread that is more than sufficient for this day.

When we share in the Eucharist, God lives up to God’s name,and fulfills a promise. “I am the one who will always be there for you.”

From today’s Gospel reading:

Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

Reflection:

We have come down from the mountain with Jesus and the three disciples. The mountaintop experience reveals Jesus to us and suggests the glory we will share with him at our own resurrection. Meanwhile, we “listen” to what he told his disciples, about our call to pick up his cross and follow his way of self-service, offering ourselves, as he did, for others.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What was meaningful in the readings today?
  • Have we ever experienced a “Transfiguration,” when we saw Christ shining through in an ordinary event?
  • Has life become so “ordinary” or routine for us that we miss the divine in the daily experience of living?

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:         

Let us turn to our heavenly Father and put our needs before him.

Reader:

We pray for the Church: that we may listen with both our minds and hearts to God’s beloved Son and be transformed by his words.
Lord hear us.

We pray for a spirit of gratitude: that we may look beyond our daily routines and like Abraham see God’s blessings that are as numerous as the stars of the sky.

Lord hear us.

We pray for courage: that we may join Jesus in journeying toward Jerusalem as we live our vocations and use our resources to continue the mission of Jesus.

Lord hear us.

We pray for all who are searching for meaning, particularly young adults: that God will lead them  to a new awareness of their gifts and of the needs that exist around them.

Lord hear us.

We pray for all who are sick: that God’s healing love will restore those recovering from Covid, cancer, or surgery, give good sleep to those who are anxious, and strength to those who are experiencing the weaknesses of advancing age.

Lord hear us.

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US.

Leader:          PRAYER FOR LENT

God, heavenly Father,

look upon us and hear our prayers

during this holy Season of Lent.

By the good works You inspire,

help us to be renewed in spirit.

Without You we can do nothing.

By Your Spirit help us to know what is right

and to be eager in doing Your will.

Keep us from sin,

and help us live by Your commandment of love.

God of love,

bring us back to You.

Send Your Spirit to make us strong in faith

and active in good works.

Open our hearts to Your love,

and prepare us for the coming feast

of the Resurrection of Jesus.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:         

God of the covenant,

your presence fills us with awe,

your word gives us unshakeable hope.

Fix in our hearts

the image of your Son in glory,

that, sustained on the path of discipleship,

we may pass over with him to newness of life.

Grant this through Christ, our deliverance and hope,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one holy and mighty God for ever and ever.

Amen.

Blessing

The leader says:

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All:                  Amen.

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