2 Lent A – March 20, 2011 – Transfiguring the World
Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm: 33:4-5,18-120, 22, 2 Timothy 1:8b-10, Matthew 17:1-9
Today our Jewish friends celebrate the festival of Purim. It commemorates how Jews in ancient Persia were saved from a ruthless plot to annihilate all of them. The story of how the young woman Esther rescued her people, by risking her own life, is told in the Book of Esther. Curiously, this is the only Book in the whole bible that does not mention the word “God.” We might deduce from this story that God often works in ways that are not apparent, in ways that appear to be chance, coincidence or luck. 
The season of Lent is a time to focus on our journeys of faith. Although similar to the journeys of our ancestors ours may be filled with less intrigue and danger. Still this time is an opportunity for us to ask how does God act in our lives? Is there really a plan? Is it all about luck?
It must be a question that the people of New Orleans, Haiti, Libya, and now Japan are asking. Those who have lost jobs and their homes in this country are asking the same question. Why me? Why now? On the other hand, it could also be a question for lottery winners, newly weds, new parents, those who have jobs and those who are not sick. Why am I so lucky when others are not?
The first reading from the Book of Genesis recounts the story of God acting through Abraham and Sarah in the creation of a great nation, Israel. Scholars tell us this passage and today’s psalm show how the “human response in faith, hope and obedience paves the way for the effective working of God in history.” 
We have a role to play in whatever that mysterious plan of God might be. While we have no power over natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, it is imperative that we act when they do strike. When dictators deprive people of liberty, as citizens of the world and the kin-dom of God we are required to help in some way … as Esther did to save her people in Persia long ago.
The specific question for us is phrased in the second reading: how do we answer the call to be Christian, that mysterious invitation from God? It is the summons that our catechumens (elect), Ann and Kelly, are responding to as they are being initiated into the Church. Rob, a candidate for full membership in our Church, continues his Christian journey.
An answer is found in part in today’s gospel about the transfiguration of Jesus where he appears along side Moses and Elijah. This story is hard to explain in a rational way. Matthew is the only evangelist who sees this event as a vision. Today we might call it an alternative state of consciousness.
Throughout his version of the gospel Matthew sees Jesus as a second Moses who led people from captivity to freedom. The power Jesus had over demons and sickness gained him honor in his culture but also created suspicion. He was considered a political revolutionary and would be put to death.  One could say, Jesus was courageously responding to what he believed to be the call, in a long line of calls, from the God who would eventually liberate him.
All of us are busy. Can we find just a moment or two during Lent to ask ourselves just how do we respond to God in our lives? Is it guided by a desire to assure our own salvation? Is it to advance the quality of life for others upon whom tragedy, hardship and injustice have fallen? Like Esther and Jesus what are we willing to risk to transfigure the world we live in?
1 Judaism 101 http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday9.htm
2 Reginald H. Fuller and Daniel Westberg. Preaching the Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today. Third Edition (Liturgical Press. 2006), 44-45
3 Pilch, John. The Cultural World of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday, Cycle A (Collegeville: Liturgical Press) 1995, 52-54