A Glimpse of the Mystery
Sunday Homily for March 8, 2009
Second Sunday in Lent (L2B)
By Fr. Phil Bloom
Bottom line: God can give a glimpse of the mystery of Jesus - and the human person.
On the Second Sunday of Lent we always read a Gospel account of the Transfiguration. It reminds us that we only see a tiny part of the mystery of Jesus - or, for that matter, the mystery of another human being.
Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International, tells a dramatic story about a woman who glimpsed the mystery of her unborn child. The young woman was seeking an abortion. She simply could not handle having a baby at this time. But she agreed to an ultrasound. When the baby appeared on the screen, the woman was amazed to see the perfectly formed body, the tiny legs and arms moving inside her womb. But the woman kept saying, "No, no, I have to have an abortion."
Dr. Hartshorn felt sad. She knew that seventy-five percent of women who see an ultrasound decide to keep their baby - but that a quarter, nevertheless, still have the abortion. It seemed like this woman would be in that twenty-five percent. All of sudden, Dr. Hartshorn's assistant said, "Reach out and take your baby's hand." Dr. Hartshorn thought, "Oh, gosh, why is she saying that?" But the woman raised her hand and touched the monitor. As if by some divine cue, the baby stretched out his arm to the exact place of his mom's hand. On the screen his tiny fingers met hers. She kept her baby.
There is a mystery inside each one of us - the mystery of the image of God. How beautiful it is when we glimpse the divine reflection in another person. Maybe we had looked at that other as an inconvenience, even a nuisance. But then God showed us something marvelous about the other.
We certainly see that in today's Gospel. Jesus was taking the apostles to Jerusalem, where he would become an object of shame they would run away from. On the way, however, he lead them up a high mountain and, as St. Mark says, "he was transfigured before them and his clothes became dazzling white." They saw a glimpse, a tiny glimpse, of who Jesus was. That would sustain them through some dark moments.
Now, God can reveal himself instantly as with the Transfiguration of Jesus - or the ultrasound of that tiny baby. But we need to prepare our hearts. Jesus had spent long months teaching and conversing with the disciples, especially Peter, James and John. Only then did he give them this glimpse of his inner reality. Likewise, we need time with Jesus - by praying and studying his Word - to open ourselves to who He is.
This Sunday we will have some help. At the end of Mass, you will hear a testimony inviting you to study the Bible. We have a program to read the Bible and Catechism in one year.* And we have an in-depth program called Catholic Bible Study that devotes an entire year to a single book. This year, for example, we are studying Genesis.
Set aside time to pray and study God's word. Open your heart to God. He can give a glimpse of the mystery of Jesus - and the human person. Like Peter we will say, "It is good that we are here!"
*The program will require a half hour to forty-five minutes a day. I suggest first getting an overview of the three readings each day, then focus on a verse that resonates and use it for some more intense minutes of prayer. Sometimes it might be a line from the Catechism that most inspires prayer.