It’s been said that the Bible is a “love story”—the story of God’s unending love for His People. I’m guessing there are some out there who have read your fair share of love stories. For some folks, it’s their favorite kind of story. For me, not so much. I tend to avoid them. But even some action movies or thrillers throw in a little romance sometimes. (Perhaps to make it more of a ‘date movie’? I don’t know.) Yet sometimes we do see that love and a bloody mess are all caught up in the same story, so that you couldn’t really separate them if you wanted to. And so, it seems to me, that’s the kind of love story we have in the Bible.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is about God’s covenant relationship with His People. In our 1st Reading, we hear about the covenant that God made with Abraham, “our father in faith.” It’s important to remember that it is God who initiates the covenant—not because He has to (for His own benefit), but purely out of the self-giving Love that God is, and for our good. We see the covenant oath made between God and Abram sealed in blood, with each passing through the animals that had been cut in two. This is certainly a little gruesome, but it symbolizes the parties basically saying, “May I end up like this if I break the covenant.”
Of course, God could never break the covenant/God could never be unfaithful to the covenant, or else He wouldn’t be God. And yet the descendants of Abraham could break the covenant, and did—time and time again, as we see throughout the OT. We have the same choice as well: to be faithful to the covenant or not. And when we don’t—in our forgetfulness of God, through our sinfulness—we certainly become split: our bond with God broken, a part of our true selves dead.
Our season of Lent is meant to help us enter more fully into the Easter Mystery, the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While God could never be unfaithful to the covenant, humanity on its own could never make up for its unfaithfulness. And so, again out of the self-giving Love that God is, Jesus went to the Cross and shed His own blood, “the blood of the new and eternal covenant…poured out…for the forgiveness of sins.”
As we journey through—and sometimes stumble through—the rocky road of covenant faith and love, our readings today encourage and inspire hope, hope in the transforming power of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. In our 2nd Reading, St. Paul calls out those who have “their minds occupied with earthly things.” Instead, he reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the Gospel, Jesus’ transfiguration comes in between announcements to His disciples that he will suffer and die, coming right before the turning point in Luke’s Gospel when Jesus starts to head toward Jerusalem, toward the place of His Passion. With all that is to come, He gives Peter, John, and James a glimpse at His ultimate victory and eternal glory. Peter wants to stay there up on the mountain; but no, they must continue toward Jerusalem. Still, despite the trials that will arise, the future belongs to Christ—even if the apostles can’t wrap their minds around it all yet.
For us, too—as people who share in God’s covenant love/as people who share in the Paschal Mystery of Christ—despite the trials and changes that we face, despite the fact that we don’t always understand, despite our failings in living out our part of the covenant relationship, the future belongs to Christ. Our future belongs to Christ. The Transfiguration of Jesus shows that the glory of God remains just below the surface of life; it shows that hope that goes beyond earthly vision and earthly possibilities; and it was an encounter with the divine, which should always leave one transformed.
Here at the celebration of the Eucharist, we too have an encounter with the divine—one that should always leave us transformed. In the Eucharist we come into contact with the self-giving love of Christ upon the Cross; the covenant and our eternal destiny is once again renewed.
“Master, it is good that we are here.”
“Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”
©2017 St. Peters Catholic Church Huron Ohio.
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