21 February – 2nd Sunday of Lent
Taking Abram outside, the Lord said, ‘Look up to heaven and count the stars if you can. Such will be your descendants.’ Abram put his faith in the Lord, who counted this as making him justified.
‘I am the Lord’ he said to him ‘who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldaeans to make you heir to this land.’ ‘My Lord,’ Abram replied ‘how am I to know that I shall inherit it?’ He said to him, ‘Get me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon.’ He brought him all these, cut them in half and put half on one side and half facing it on the other; but the birds he did not cut in half. Birds of prey came down on the carcases but Abram drove them off.
When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, there appeared a smoking furnace and a firebrand that went between the halves. That day the Lord made a Covenant with Abram in these terms:
‘To your descendants I give this land,
from the wadi of Egypt to the Great River.’
My brothers, be united in following my rule of life. Take as your models everybody who is already doing this and study them as you used to study us. I have told you often, and I repeat it today with tears, there are many who are behaving as the enemies of the cross of Christ. They are destined to be lost. They make foods into their god and they are proudest of something they ought to think shameful; the things they think important are earthly things. For us, our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe.
So then, my brothers and dear friends, do not give way but remain faithful in the Lord. I miss you very much, dear friends; you are my joy and my crown.
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.
Take as your models everybody who is doing this and study them as you used to study us
One of the things that I have learnt as an educator for the past 5 years, is the importance of role-modelling to students. This is applicable in both the academic domain, where we need to show them the thought process used in a particular discipline; and the non-academic domain, where values are caught by a student observing his teacher and not taught in the classroom. The readings of today remind us that Jesus has shown us the way towards becoming a believer of God and the rewards it will bring.
The Transfiguration of our Lord is a preview of the heavenly happiness we will receive upon our death. Sometimes we find the time on earth to be difficult to get by and that sometimes it can be quite tiresome. The burdens posed by men are many and we lose sight of our purpose as a Christian. Perhaps we could be like the three apostles who are so tired that they fell asleep. Yet Jesus always is there to remind us that we need to be in touch with Him. We need to be one with His great Love and to discover that to be with God is to soldier on in the faith. As we continue with our journey, we can instead look around for companions around us who are examples for us to follow in the faith.
Indeed, these need not be well-learned people but could very well be an ordinary person whom we encounter in our daily lives. The elderly couple who show love to each other despite the physical or mental difficulties they face, the single parent who continues to care for the children despite the difficulties, or even just an act of kindness that is unsolicited, are all possible examples of love which we can learn from. Perhaps we can take time to pause to see whom we can learn from this Lent and become a better person from these everyday role models.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer – Dear Father, we pray for the grace of openness to learn from the people whom we desire to be role-models
Thanksgiving – We give thanks for all who mentor others.