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Bible Reflections View Comments

God Is More Glorious Than We Can Imagine
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
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The Second Sunday of Lent features the account of the transfiguration. The event gave the disciples a foreshadowing of Jesus’s glorious destiny, even though they were unable to comprehend it fully at the time.

For us, this narrative reminds us that the goal of Lent is resurrection and the renewal of our baptismal vows. A penitential season such as Lent can cause us to focus overmuch on the suffering and death of our crucified savior. The transfiguration reminds us that at the end of the suffering is unimaginable life with the resurrected Christ.

This is the paradox and the tension that Christians hold as an essential part of our belief: Only through the cross do we find life. But the life that we do find is real and eternal. We don’t keep coming back to Lent because God has not really forgiven us. We keep coming back to Lent because we haven’t yet accepted that forgiveness and grace.

Today’s First Reading from Genesis recounts the covenant God made with Abraham. In a ceremony that seems bizarre to us, God and Abraham pass between a series of sacrificial carcasses that have been cut in half. In the symbolism of ancient treaties, they were declaring that the same destruction would happen to them if they broke the covenant. And yet we know that the Israelites through the centuries did break the covenant and were not destroyed, because God always remained faithful.

In the Gospel, Peter, James, and John awake from sleep to witness the vision of the transfiguration. Like the covenant with Abraham, this one is sealed with an expression of God’s willingness to die to ensure that the covenant does not fail.

The presence of Moses and Elijah tells us that Jesus’s new covenant is truly a fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham and the covenant with Moses at Sinai. The great prophets—Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others— reminded the people to keep faith with this covenant.

The apostles are speechless after this event, perhaps because they still cannot grasp the full implications of what this covenant will mean in Jesus’s life and what it will mean in their own lives. Yet they know that it is good that they have witnessed such glorious proof of God’s favor. They have been graced with a vision of the resurrection we profess.

When we are baptized we become sons and daughters of God and anytime we are reminded of this we should shine with renewed and transfigured light. This is what we are called to, and this vision should strengthen our willingness to undergo conversion and reconciliation in our Lenten journey. This Sunday’s Scriptures can give a deeper meaning to our Lenten disciplines. It’s not about what we’re doing for God, it’s about what God has done and is doing for us.

Our covenant with God is so magnificent that it can only be described with images that dazzle our imaginations. When the realization of what God will do for his people dawns on us, we cannot remain asleep, caught in our dim, stumbling routines. Especially for lifelong Christians, it’s easy to become complacent about our spiritual lives. The Scriptures continually remind us that the glorious vision of life with Christ raises even our ordinary lives to a new level. Our calling is to take some of that glorious light to all those we meet.


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Benedict Joseph Labre: Benedict Joseph Labre was truly eccentric, one of God's special little ones. Born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he was unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at 16 years of age, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave up all thoughts of the priesthood, much to the consternation of his relatives. 
<p>He became a pilgrim, traveling from one great shrine to another, living off alms. He wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the poor. Filled with the love of God and neighbor, Benedict had special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Blessed Sacrament. In Rome, where he lived in the Colosseum for a time, he was called "the poor man of the Forty Hours Devotion" and "the beggar of Rome." The people accepted his ragged appearance better than he did. His excuse to himself was that "our comfort is not in this world." </p><p>On the last day of his life, April 16, 1783, Benedict Joseph dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. Immediately after his death the people proclaimed him a saint. </p><p>He was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII at canonization ceremonies in 1883.</p> American Catholic Blog Today offers limitless possibilities for holiness. Lean into His grace. The only thing keeping us from sainthood is ourselves.

 
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