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THE POWER OF FAITH IN GOD

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The socio-economic challenges that our country is facing today, with high costs of living or essential commodities, are very alarming. This cancerous situation has engendered serious hunger and suffering among the citizenry, keeping the country in a state of quagmire and comatoseness. Moreover, the current situation seems to have preoccupied many people, leaving them with thoughts of survival and not of the possible solutions to existential circumstances and problems. Consequently, this has also instigated a lack of faith in God Almighty (our Creator), who alone can salvage the present situation of the country.

As we continue our spiritual journey of faith and renewal on this second Sunday of Lent, we are invited to embark on a voyage of self-discovery and reflect upon the profound significance of faith in God that permeates the fabric of today’s readings.

The Unwavering Faith of Abraham, despite his Existential Challenges

Faith God of Abraham
The Unwavering Faith of Abraham

In the first reading, we see the patriarch Abraham, whose journey was a testimony to unwavering faith in God. Abraham demonstrated an extraordinary faith and love for God by obeying Him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, whom he cherished so much. Thus, an angel later showed him a sacrificial lamb to offer God. Moreover, this sacrifice prefigures the Passion of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son and Lamb of God.

Abraham never allowed any obstacle or challenge he encountered to infringe on his relationship with God. He walked a path shrouded in mystery, guided only by the divine whisper of the Almighty God, calling us to recognize the echoes of that same call within our own hearts. It is a call to embrace the pilgrimage of faith in God, to trust in the unseen, and to surrender to the divine roadmap laid out before us.

The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ

Power of Faith in the Transfiguration of Jesus
The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ

In the gospel reading, we witness the awe-inspiring transfiguration of Jesus Christ when He took His three disciples (Peter, James, and John) to the mountain. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared before them, and a cloud came, covering them in shadow, and from the cloud a voice echoed: “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him” (Mark 9:7). This affirmation underscores the divine authority and purpose of His mission. The appearance of Moses and Elijah symbolizes the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets in Jesus, demonstrating that He is the culmination of God’s redemptive plan and the fulfillment of the scriptures.

Our Faith in God Amidst Challenges Produces Transformative Encounter

Undoubtedly, the profound moment of divine encounter during the transfiguration empowered Jesus to willingly endure the excruciating journey to the cross, demonstrating His obedience and selfless sacrifice for the redemption of humanity (Philippians 2:8). Moreover, when we turn our gaze to the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, we may initially struggle to discern the thread of faith woven through the narrative. Yet, upon deeper reflection, we discover that it is precisely faith that transfigures our understanding.

Our Faith in God Amidst Challenges
Our Faith in God Amidst Challenges

Just as Christ revealed His glory on the mountaintop, we too are called to a transformative encounter. It is through the lens of faith that we perceive the journey of the cross not as an end but as a passage to transfiguration. It is a reminder that our own metamorphosis is inextricably linked to the embrace of life’s trials, challenges, and problems, knowing that in surrendering to the divine will, we are held and shaped by God’s hands.

The Significance of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ

The transfiguration of Jesus is a pivotal event in the New Testament that holds deep theological significance. Here are some key aspects of its significance:

1. Revelation of Divine Glory:

The transfiguration provides a glimpse of Jesus’ divine glory in the heavenly realm, previously hidden by His humanity. This can strengthen our faith, which reminds us that Christ is not merely a historical figure but the living Son of God. 

2. Fulfillment of the Old Testament:

The Law and the Prophets are the two main parts of the Hebrew Scriptures. The appearance of Moses (Law) and Elijah (Prophets) signifies that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of both and also the confirmation that He is the promised Messiah. This continuity reinforces the trustworthiness of God’s promises and the reliability of Scripture, thus deepening our faith in God’s unfolding plan of salvation.

3. Affirmation of Jesus’ Sonship: 

Hearing God’s declaration of Jesus as His beloved Son can encourage believers to have faith in Jesus’ teachings and His unique role in God’s plan. It reassures us that by following Christ, we are aligning ourselves with God’s will.

4. Preview of the Resurrection: 

The transfiguration foreshadows the Resurrection, bolstering our faith in the victory over death and the hope of our own resurrection. It assures believers that, just as Jesus was transformed and glorified, so too will those who have faith in Him experience transformation and glory.

5. Strengthening the Disciples’ Faith in God:

The experience serves to strengthen the faith of the disciples, preparing them for the upcoming trials of Jesus’ passion and crucifixion. Similarly, recalling this event can help believers maintain faith during trials, knowing that Jesus’ suffering led to victory and that our own struggles can also be transformative.

6. Eschatological Hope:

The transfiguration points to the ultimate fulfillment of God’s Kingdom, which is central to Christian eschatological hope. This future vision can invigorate our faith as we anticipate the return of Christ in glory and the establishment of a new heaven and earth where God’s presence is fully realized.

7. Call to Discipleship:

The transformative power seen in the transfiguration is a call to personal spiritual growth and discipleship, which underscores the idea of self-sacrifice. It invites believers to deepen their faith through a closer relationship with God, which leads to becoming more like Christ in character and action.

Divine Love: The Anchor of Our Faith in God
Divine Love for Humanity

The second reading illuminates the bedrock upon which our faith is anchored. That is, the steadfast and unconditional love of God, which is seen in His readiness to sacrifice His only begotten Son for our sake. Since God is for us, who can then be against us (Romans 8:31)? This love is the unshakeable certainty that we are cherished beyond measure and that every step on our Lenten journey is saturated with divine presence.

St. Paul affirmed this selfless love of God for humanity and thus encouraged us to always have faith and trust in Jesus Christ, despite the challenges we may encounter in life. For him, this is a love that does not falter or fade but is as constant as the stars that guided Abraham’s steps.

Navigating the Complexities of life with Faith yields a Glorious Crown
Navigating the Complexities of life with Faith
Navigating the Complexities of life with Faith

Although God loves us unconditionally, He manifests Himself in a very special way for only those who faithfully obey His voice with sincerity of heart, despite the challenges they encounter in life. Abraham needed strong faith to follow the road God showed him, despite the challenges he encountered. Jesus Christ passed through the excruciating journey of the cross, as willed by His Father, before humanity could gain salvation.

Furthermore, the disciples could only experience the glorious splendour of Jesus Christ during the transfiguration after passing through the challenges of climbing the mountain. Afterwards, they later encountered several problems before attaining the crown of unfading glory as saints. Hence, we too can only reach our own transfiguration by first passing through the way of the cross and then placing ourselves in God’s hands. In other words, before we can receive our glorious crown, we must patiently undergo the cross (Mark 8:34).

Have Faith in God; He will Surely Answer your Prayers
God will Surely Answer your Prayers
God will Surely Answer your Prayers

Dearly beloved, I want to assure you that God loves you so much and has never changed (Hebrews 13:8). Only have faith in God; He will surely come to your aid. Notably, whenever you are passing through difficulties, it is even more important to have strong faith in God (Hebrews 11:6). No matter how bad the current socio-economic situation in our country is, do not give up on God. He alone can salvage the present cancerous situation in the country. He can never forsake you; you must surely see light at the end of the tunnel (Isaiah 49:15–16). As the scripture says, “Let thanksgiving be your sacrifice to God; fulfill the vows you make to the Most High; then if you call to me in time of trouble, I will rescue you, and you will honour me” (Psalms 50:14–15).

Conclusion

From the foregoing, the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is a complex event that serves multiple theological purposes. From affirming Jesus’ identity as the Son of God to foreshadowing His death and resurrection and offering a vision of the hope and transformation that await believers. Our mountain (concrete existential problems) may pose a threat to our spiritual growth, but when we reach the top, we see things in a different way.

Therefore, let us find in our hearts the courage of Abraham, the transformative vision of the Transfiguration, and the assurance of God’s unwavering love as we continue our spiritual sojourn. Let this second Sunday of Lent be a beacon that guides us closer to the heart of the Eternal, where faith and love converge in the luminous mystery of the Divine. Also, let us allow the spirit of Lent to draw us into deeper communion with the Divine.

As we conclude this homily, let us ask ourselves the following questions for further personal reflection:
personal reflection
Moments of Personal Reflection…

(a) Is there anything in my life that I cherish so much that acts as a barrier to my relationship with God or makes me not listen to His voice? Can I sacrifice them this Lenten season (Mark 8:34–37)?

(b) Are there mountainous challenges in my life that pose a threat to my spiritual journey? Can I confidently and faithfully entrust them to God in prayer (1 Peter 5:7)?

(c) Are there any positive efforts I am making to cushion the effects of high costs of living and alleviate the suffering among people around me? Can I look beyond the current existential circumstances and problems?

Prayer:

May the Holy Spirit empower you and your family to have strong faith in God. May He help you to always accept your challenges as sacrifice for the sake of Christ this Lenten Season, which will help you to attain a crown of unfading glory in the end, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Benjamin Okala, C.S.Sp.

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