Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 20, 2011 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Gen 12:1-4 2 Tim 1:8-10 Mt 17:1-9

Undoubtedly all of us have been watching closely the disasters affecting Japan and the developments in Libya this week. The suffering involved with political uprisings, major earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear meltdowns are unimaginable for most of us and we wouldn’t wish that kind of suffering on anyone.

In the cases of political uprisings and nuclear meltdowns, lights are involved. In these situations you don’t exactly see the light, but the effects are clearly felt. Someone has an idea that they want a different kind of political leadership. We picture this as light bulb overhead. The citizens take sides and begin a protest. Then the government responds. Ideas have long been considered lights. There are all kinds of lights, those that illuminate our future with greater hope and those lights that lead down darker paths. In a nuclear reactor meltdown there is radiation. The radioactive rays are invisible to the naked eye, but their effects are obvious. For those close to the reactor that melts down, there is immediate death. For those who receive large doses of radiation a bit farther from the reactor, there is sickness that precedes death. For those who are a bit farther away and receive less radiation, cancer might follow. Clearly, this kind of “light” is extremely harmful unless it is contained safely in the nuclear reactor or in specialized storage.

Today’s gospel reading presents us with another form of light. Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain and there he was transfigured. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became dazzlingly white. For us in the western society, the image is certainly awe inspiring, but without the biblical background, the symbolism may elude us. In the Scriptures, we find that Moses’ face shone like the sun after he spoke with God on Mt. Sinai. The light in the cloud symbolized the presence of God who has no darkness within. When we put together the Old Testament images with this transfiguration of Jesus, we can see that Jesus’ was in deep prayer, communing with God so completely that his face radiated divine light.

This transfiguration scene took place just after Jesus predicted his passion and death. Matthew’s gospel tells us that Peter objected to Jesus suffering, saying, “God forbid it!” Jesus, however, responded telling Peter that suffering must certainly come and he would rise from death. There is no resurrection without suffering and death. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells the disciples to tell no one about the vision until he had risen from death. With this in mind, Scripture scholars tell us that Jesus’ white clothing coupled with his beaming face suggest that his transfiguration reflects the glory that would be his in the resurrection. The transfiguration may well have been the encouragement that the disciples needed to keep faith in Jesus throughout the trials that would soon come.

Today we are faced with terrible suffering worldwide. As we wonder what will happen in Libya, and as we hope that the engineers in Japan will be able to avert a complete nuclear meltdown, we are faced with serious decisions about how to face these issues. The present suffering is horrific enough and many have already died. Facing these problems gives us a chance to share the light of Christ—to be hope and strength for others. We can share in their sufferings by sharing our hope in Christ and by sharing our material blessings with the victims of these disasters. In other words, we can be light in the darkness of their lives.

To be the light for others means that we must be deeply connected with Christ. Just as Jesus’ light flowed out of his union with the Father, our prayer and our compassion for the suffering must flow out of the Spirit of Christ that is ours. This Lent is already providing us with the opportunity to draw closer to the cross and lift it from Christ’s shoulders. Are we so connected to the heart of Christ, that we are willing to shine the light of our faith by lifting the cross from others?

Key words

Bible, Scripture, Christian, environment, ecology, lectionary, reflection, homily, sermon, Catholic, green, environmentally friendly, sustainability, the common good, the commons


About Me

The Green Nun earned an MA in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley and is currently completing a Masters degree in Earth Literacy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. This blog spot is being done as an integration project for the MA.