March 13, 2022
by George Butterfield
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Second Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 27

Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Psalm 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14.
Philippians 3:17—4:1 OR Philippians 3:20—4:1
Luke 9:28b-36

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Lent as: Hearing the Cry of the Poor

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Helping Little Children with Lent

All of the readings for this Second Sunday of Lent envision seeing God. The Old Testament makes clear that no person can see God and live. However, this is our desire - to see God and to know him, even as he knows us.

In the first reading, God made a covenant with Abram. God speaks to him but Abram doesn’t see God. In that day a covenant or treaty was made by the conqueror and conquered walking together through cut up animals on each side. The conqueror gave the terms of their treaty and the conquered agreed to them. The dead animals were a visible threat that this is how you end up if you don’t abide by the conqueror’s terms. In this story, God is not a conqueror and Abram is not the vassal and they don’t walk through the animals together. Only God does that. And he does it as a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch. God promises to bless Abram but that blessing does not include Abram seeing God.

The psalmist also wants to see God. He says, “Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.” Just let me catch a quick glimpse of you, God. That’s all I want. He goes on to say, “Your presence, O LORD, I seek. Hide not your face from me….” Finally, he says, “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living.” The psalmist has hope but he still does not see the face of God.

St. Paul encourages us not to focus on and live for earthly things but to lift up our heads and live for God. He says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.” Right now we have a lowly body, one that has eyes that cannot see the spiritual world in all its glory. But Jesus is going to give us new, glorified bodies which will include eyes to see the face of God.

The Gospel story of the transfiguration of Jesus tells of how God allows the divine nature of Jesus to be glimpsed through his humanity. The disciples see his face and clothes as dazzling white. They still cannot see beyond his humanity but his appearance demonstrates that there is more to him than they can see with their physical eyes. And the voice from the cloud makes it clear: Jesus is the Son of God.

In Jesus, we see God and don’t die. No longer does God hide behind a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch. No longer does our glance seek to see God, to no avail. Now we await from heaven the return of the one we have seen, the God who came in the flesh, who has destroyed death, and promises us that the power of his resurrection will not only empower us to live for him now but will one day make us immortal and give us eyes that truly see.

St. Paul said it best: “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord.”

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