Donald F. Reilly, O.S.A.Second Sunday of Lent (Year C)
Homily by Donald F. Reilly, O.S.A.
Prior Provincial, Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova

Gn 15:5-12, 17-18
Ps 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14
Phil 3:17—4:1 or 3:20—4:1
Lk 9:28b-36

I write this reflection on the readings for the Second Sunday of Lent from Durban, South Africa where our friars are doing wonderful work in collaboration with Augustinian Sisters, Augustinian Volunteers and lay persons from our parish, Our Lady of Mercy.

Wherever I have traveled it seems that the desired place to have a home is high up on a hill. Hills seem to be preferred to valleys. Mountain tops seem to offer better views, cleaner air, privacy and the feeling that this somehow must be the way God sees the earth and those who dwell on it. Looking out over others and the comings and goings of daily life can simplify things in our own lives. Up there we can be left alone with our thoughts, uninvolved with the challenges of negotiating traffic, the hustle and bustle of work, so many things to say nothing of negotiating the many different relationships in our lives. We may even long for the solitude distance offers beyond a fleeting moment of quiet caught here and there.

I'm sure Peter, James and John, besides feeling special in accompanying Jesusto this out-of-the-way place, recognized the rarefied air of peace it offered them. They must have thought Jesus considered them the hardest working of all the disciples and most in need of retreat. Why else would he have asked them and not the others to come aside and refresh their bodies, minds and spirits? The clarity with which Jesus revealed himself on this mountain top must have been the icing on the cake for the three of them. So intimate a sharing, so unique an experience, so marvelous a gift.

Little did they know that it was a set up. Little did they know how much was going to be asked of them in a very short while. Like Abram in the first reading from Genesis, they would soon sit in the middle of conflict, derision and sacrifice. Abram needed to know if what Yahweh promised would come true. Abram was given his life's ministry in the midst of uncertainty and chaos. Jesus brought Peter, James and John with him to create a memory that would soon sustain them in the coming chaos of their our mission of preaching a crucified Christ; a crucifixion pre figuring their own demise. The specialness of the intimate moment with Jesus was an orientation for a ministry of not being above others looking down but with others looking up to a God become humanity.

Paul's letter to the Philippians, our second reading, describes the life of a Christian so well by saying that we have our citizenship in heaven, from there we await the coming of our savior. Our mountain top, our hill is not here but yet to come. The promise to give a new form to these lowly bodies of ours and remake them according to the pattern of his glorified body gives us courage to spend ourselves down in the valley and crevices of human life.

As we journey through another Lent in a not so remote preparation for our own resurrection, we desire to have said of us what was said of Jesus in that blissful moment of solitude-This is my Son, my Chosen One, Listen to him. Isn't this the desire of every Christian heart - to know that our God takes great delight in us, knowing that he loved us before we were formed in human flesh. We long, too, to know our true chosenness begun at our baptism, God's public claim on our lives, and who among us doesn't desire to be listened to, to have people hear how God has been active in our lives calling us to conversion in the daily challenges of living life.

While mountains and high hills are sought after for dwellings and even peace, life is more often than not lived in valleys and in deep slices of darkness where peace seems elusive and quiet is a luxury. In these places where we are called to live the gospel, at these times when we seek assurances, do we live our faith. In this Eucharist we accept the mission and ministry of a follower of Christ. We choose to return to our homes, our places of employment, our fractured relationships and live the crucified and resurrected Christ. We come down from any high place of privilege, position or attitude and accept our ministry of service to those with whom we live and move and work out our grace-filled lives.