The Second Week of Lent: Our Lenten Journey Up the Mountain February 23, 2024

The Second Week of Lent: Join the Journey! 

Bend your knees, mend your heart, and lend your hands.”

From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard: “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him”. Mt.17:5

Last Sunday we were invited to enter the desert with Jesus and to cultivate deep silence, embrace profound solitude while focusing on the essentials of life. Today we are invited by Jesus to climb the mountain with him so we may contemplate the brightness of God’s glorious radiance on his human face and thus have a foretaste of Paradise.

The Gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus as found in Matthew, Mark and Luke is alternatingly proclaimed on the Second Sunday of Lent. This year we read from the Gospel of Mark. According to all three Gospels Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him up a mountain. There, before their eyes he transfigured and appeared bright as light. Moses, representing the Law, and Elijah representing the Prophets appeared beside him. And a voice from heaven declared: “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” It was then that the apostles saw Jesus with new eyes. They saw him as he truly is.

Our Lenten journey up the mountain is an invitation to see with new eyes. We are asked to leave behind the doldrum of our daily lives and to walk the uphill path of Lent which requires effort, sacrifice, and commitment. The goal is to experience the Light of Christ so we may see who Jesus truly is and when we see Jesus as he really is we are better equipped to face the challenges and opportunities of life.

All of us “go through moments of darkness in our personal, family or social life, and we fear there is no way out” and we may stumble when we “encounter the scandal of the cross or the demands of the Gospel” Pope Francis has said. In those dark moments we need the light of Christ “that illuminates the mystery of life” and helps us to move beyond any challenges we might face. 

After experiencing Jesus as he truly is Peter said: “it is well to be here.” He was clearly keen on staying on the mountain even volunteering to build tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Yet, Jesus brought Peter, James, and John back from the mountain. In the same way, we too need to return to the valley after spending time on the mountain. And having experienced the Light of Christ we are to reflect His light to the world and learn how to see His light in the faces of the people we interact with daily. 

During this Second Week of Lent let’s bend our knees by contemplating the Light of Christ as revealed in Scripture; mend our heart by recognizing the Light of Christ in the face of others; and lend our hands by bringing the Light of Christ to others.

  • Bending our Knees: by contemplating the Light of Christ as revealed in Scripture
    • The Voice from Heaven heard during the Transfiguration did not only declare Jesus to be God’s beloved Son but also admonished the disciples to “listen to him.” This admonition is intended not only for the apostles but for all of us. We need to listen to Jesus as he reveals himself to us.
    • How often do we let the Word of God wash over us as we fail to pay attention to the readings during the Celebration of the Eucharist? Lent is the perfect time to open our hearts to the Word of God and to listen to the voice of Jesus in the Scriptures.
    • How often do we hurry by people in need, avoiding their eyes and ignoring their ask. According to Pope Francis we should not only listen to the voice of Jesus in Scripture. We should also “open our hearts to Jesus as he speaks to us in the stories of those who are in need. While in their very faces we can behold Jesus as he truly is.”
    • One small step could be to commit ourselves to listening attentively to the readings at Mass this Sunday.
  • Mending our Hearts: by recognizing the Light of Christ in the face of others
    • By offering Peter, James, and John a glimpse of his transfigured beauty, Jesus is preparing them for what is to come. Soon after the transfiguration they were asked to recognize the same Light in Jesus, now not appearing dazzling and bright but disfigured and hanging on a cross.
    • Pope Francis warns us against the temptation to limit and reduce the experience of the Light of Jesus to a “magical moment” on a mountain top. This could easily become an idol, “something false, artificial, something that would dissolve into the fog of passing sentiment.” Rather, Pope Francis suggests that we should see Christ as the light that orients our journey like the pillar of fire for the people in the desert (cf. Ex 13:21).
    • The Light of Christ and the true beauty of Jesus revealed during the Transfiguration does not alienate his disciples from the reality of life but gives them the strength to follow him all the way to Jerusalem, all the way to the cross. The same holds for us, the light of Christ allows us to go forward and continue our earthly pilgrimage with all its ups and downs.
    • One small step could be to resist the temptation to look at the glass of our life as half empty but rather look at it as half full.  
  • Lending our Hands: by bringing the Light of Christ to others.
    • Our Lenten path is not about extraordinary events and dramatic experiences that often cover a refusal to seek the true face of Jesus and to hear his voice Pope Francis said. Lent offers us a great opportunity to prepare ourselves to more clearly see the Light of Christ through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
    • After we experience the Light of Christ, revealed to us on the mountain top we are invited to come down from the mountain and to bring the Light of Christ to every person in need.
    • The way we can bring the Light of Christ to others is “through concrete acts of love diving into our daily occupations more generously, loving, serving, and forgiving with greater earnestness and willingness,” Pope Francis said. “The contemplation of God’s wonders, the contemplation of God’s face, of the Lord’s face, must move us to the service of others.”
    • One small step could be to commit ourselves to engage with the next person in need who seeks our attention.

From our Creation Justice Team

Every Friday in Lent, our Creation Justice team will offer some suggestions as to how we might be gentler with our planet and help implement the vision Pope Francis set out in his encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care of creation and his more recent Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Dominum.

Fast for Creation: Going Meatless
This week we are asked to look at our food intake and to see how we might reduce our consumption of meat.

And please remember to be patient with yourself and others and don’t let yourself be overwhelmed.  Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian heroism. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.

Blessed Lent,
Johan van Parys, PhD
Managing Director of Ministries/ Director of Liturgy & Sacred Arts