Sunday, March 13, 2022

Claiming Our Inheritance

2nd Sunday in Lent (C)

Readings: Genesis 15:5-12,17-18; Psalm 26(27):1,7-9,13-14; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:28-36

Picture: cc Ken Mayer

My dear friends, what’s the difference between a will and an inheritance? As you know, if someone leaves me a house in her will, I don’t immediately own the house. No, before I can claim it as my inheritance, several things need to happen first. The most important being that the current owner needs to die. Only then can the will be filed in court, and further steps be taken to transfer the ownership of the house to me.

To be named in a will is not yet to receive an inheritance. This is perhaps what Peter fails to understand in the gospel. After witnessing the Lord’s Transfiguration, he probably has the sense that he is being given a share in an inheritance, such as the inheritance promised to Abram in the first reading. And yet, by seeking to remain on the mountain, Peter shows that he doesn’t appreciate what is actually happening.

He fails to understand that, like a will, the Transfiguration is only the promise of an inheritance. It is not the inheritance itself. For Peter to actually receive his inheritance, several things need to happen first. The most important being that Jesus must go to Calvary, to lay down his life on the Cross. And a second important thing that must happen is that Peter, and all those who wish to claim the inheritance – including all of us – must truly believe that Christ is indeed God’s Chosen One. We must listen to him, and follow in his footsteps.

But if the Transfiguration is only the promise of an inheritance, then in what does the inheritance itself consist? The second reading helps us ponder this question by reminding us not to live only for earthly things, for our homeland is in heaven. Which doesn’t mean that we will be taken out of this material world to some faraway place. For the reading also tells us not only that Christ will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body, but also that he will do so by using the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe. So our inheritance consists not in an escape, but a glorious transformation, not just of our bodies, but also of the whole material universe. Through the Lord’s Dying and Rising, everything will be transfigured. This is the glorious inheritance to which we lay claim when we profess our baptismal vows. The same vows that Lent prepares us to renew.

Even so, despite his lack of understanding, Peter does get one important thing right. For the gospel tells us that though he and his companions were heavy with sleep, they somehow managed to stay awake long enough to see the glory of the Lord. And what about me? In a world darkened by one crisis after another – from the global COVID-19 pandemic to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – am I able to stay sufficiently awake to see and be strengthened by the glory of the Lord shining out in all those heroic front-liners, who sacrifice themselves for the sake of others, as well as those who choose to stand on the side of truth and justice and peace?

Sisters and brothers, in the Transfiguration, our loving Father promises us a glorious inheritance. What are we doing to claim it for ourselves, and to share it with others today?

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