God has a plan for us. He gives us life and wants us to have the fullness of that life. We are reminded of that plan today as we continue our Lenten journey to Easter.
The second reading for Sunday’s liturgy is from the Second Letter to Timothy, which reminds us of God’s plan: “He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our own works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began ….” St. Paul continues noting that it is Jesus who destroys death and brings “life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Jesus comes to heal the wounds of sin. He is the means of God’s mercy. If we think back to the Book of Genesis and the original state of mankind, we think of God’s many blessings bestowed upon man — they had all creation handed over to them by the Creator, God our heavenly Father; they lived in peace and concord and had everything they needed to live a good life.
Yet they were tempted and deceived into thinking they could have more and they gave into that temptation and sinned. With sin came death. In other words death is the consequence of sin. The two go hand in hand. God was not pleased with their sin but he was also not pleased with the situation so he provides a remedy, a way out of the darkness of sin and death into the brilliance of life, divine life.
His plan unfolds in time. The first reading recalls the first covenant, that with Abraham. God invites Abraham to be part of his plan. Through him and his descendants God will begin to heal the effects of sin. He makes himself known to man and invites him to follow. The call to Abraham is remarkable in that God is asking Abraham to do something quite remarkable and extraordinary: Leaving his “father’s house” and homeland to go to a place he has never been. The Lord is calling Abraham to believe and to trust. In other words, he calls Abraham to faith. Abraham responds and follows.
The blessings that God promised Abraham come to fulfillment in time according to the plan or design of God. This plan leads to the advent of the savior, Jesus Christ. Centuries later Jesus comes to fulfill the plan of God and the final promise to Abraham, that all communities or nations will be blessed in him. This new covenant is established in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. This is what we prepare to celebrate during the season of Lent.
The Gospel passage for Sunday’s liturgy is that of the Transfiguration. The event serves different purposes, one of which is to prepare Jesus’ disciples for the horror of the passion. As Jesus is transfigured before them, Moses and Elijah appear. These two figures represent the “law and the prophets.” They are reminders of the covenant God made with Israel — the covenant that followed the covenant with Abraham.
God’s saving plan unfolded in Israel through the giving of the law and the proclamation of the prophets. That plan will soon reach its climax in the saving death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus himself refers to this as He and the disciples are coming down from the mountain. He tells them: “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
God’s plan has been accomplished. He has saved mankind from sin. He has delivered mankind from death. We participate in God’s plan, his saving activity, through the sacraments of initiation. In baptism we are immersed into the mystery of Christ’s death and thereby given a share in his eternal life. In confirmation we are sealed and strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit to live the life of faith according to God’s plan. In Eucharist we are nourished by Christ’s Body and Blood as we enter further into the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection.
The journey through Lent will continue to Easter. As we go forward we recall God’s saving activity and plan. We remember his love and his call to faith. At Easter we will all be asked to renew our baptismal promises. Lent helps us to prepare for this renewal and recommitment.