Second Sunday of Lent 2017


Genesis 12:1-4; Psalm 33; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9

A Transfiguring Climb


Climb! Keep climbing! Never stop climbing! Let’s make it clear that it is not easy to take one’s first steps in the Lenten desert, just as it was not easy for Abram–who was called to leave his homeland and become a wayfarer–to accept what at first glance seemed to be a “curse” but which instead turned out to be a blessing of the Lord. It was not easy for Moses, who was called to not only guide his people but to also serve as an intermediary between them and the God of their fathers. It was not easy for the prophet Elijah, who was charged to vigorously uphold fidelity to God and observance of his Word.

And it certainly wasn’t easy for Christ Jesus to climb the rugged, enigmatic summit of Golgotha, bearing on his shoulders the sins of every human being. No, it wasn’t easy for the Son of God to climb to the pinnacle of the Father’s will and then descend to its depths. It wasn’t easy for him to be treated like sin for our benefit (2 Co. 5:21). It wasn’t easy, but it was suitable, according to God’s plan for our salvation.

Christ ascended by descending so that we, who are all too inclined to plunge down into the “ravines” of sin–the ravines farthest away from God–can climb out of them with his help. This is the path from Tabor to Calvary, and from Calvary to heaven. It is a path that is very hard for us to walk, just as it was for Simon Peter, who found it difficult to accept that his Master would come to such an end and point it out to his disciples of all times as the path to follow! We can walk this path only if Jesus “takes us with him,” as he did with Peter, James and John. Otherwise we would remain locked in our human way of considering things–a reasoning that all too often makes us avoid obedience to the Father, especially when it is cloaked in the dark-hued mantle of the cross.

And yet it is only by a climb marked by obedient and humble “descent” that we reach the point of contemplating things and life itself from the perspective of God. Only thus can life be “transfigured” by the beauty of heaven instead of “disfigured” by the pride of our sin.


Lord Jesus,
help us listen to you with docility
so as to climb toward
the Father’s horizons
and, wrapped in the cloud of the Spirit,
learn from you, his beloved Son,
to descend by the path of
humble trust in the love of God
at every moment of our life,
whether in times of joy
or times of trial.
In your company,
we too will be transfigured
and so will the world.

Fr Massimo TellanParroco di San Giovanni Crisostomo, Roma