Second Sunday of Lent 2021: Gospel: Mk 9:2-10
Why are we reading this story during Lent? First of all, it is grounded in the story of the Exodus, the context in which much of Lent is situated. The book is read almost daily in the Office of Readings. A number of the passages read at Mass quote portions of the Law revealed to Moses on Sinai by the God of fire, and the gospel readings urge us to obey its prescriptions about how to treat other people of all sorts. And the story of the Passover from the Book of Exodus, the story that sets off the journey from Egypt into the desert, opens the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, thus plunging us into the paschal mystery spread out before us on Thursday, Good Friday, and in the magnificent readings of the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.
On Good Friday, darkness took over the earth, but on Easter Sunday, Jesus, the fiery Sun of Justice broke through the darkness to deliver all peoples from ultimate death. That is where our Lenten journey is taking us through all our penitential efforts to prune away what holds us back and keeps is down beneath the thumb of sin and death. So the Second Sunday of Lent makes the promise that leads us from this present "valley of darkness,” whatever form that takes in our lives, into the presence of the Risen Christ who embodies God’s fiery glory in human flesh.
Note: Francis Xavier Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan (1928-2002) was a remarkable man. A native of Vietnam, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Saigon six days before the city fell to the North Vietnamese Army. He was imprisoned by the communist government of Vietnam in a re-education camp for 13 years, nine in solitary confinement (Wikipedia). While there, he did not spend his time and energy brooding on his own suffering but instead found every way he could to scribble messages to his people on whatever scraps of paper he could get. The messages are not complaints, though complaints would certainly have been justified. They are calls to hope. They were eventually compiled into the book, The Road to Hope: A Gospel from Prison. The most recent edition was published in 2013 by Wellspring. Pope Benedict XVI said of the book: “During thirteen years in jail, in a situation of seemingly utter hopelessness, the fact that he could listen and speak to God became for him an increasing power of hope, which enabled him, after his release, to become for people all over the world a witness to hope—to that great hope which does not wane even in the nights of solitude.” The late Cardinal’s cause for beatification was officially opened in 2007.
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