Homily for Second Sunday of Lent Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
· Gen 15:5-12, 17-18;
· Ps 27: 1, 7-9,13-14;
· Phil 3:17–4:1
· Luke 9:28b-36.
Paths to Heavenly Citizenship!
It is interesting to listen to the American Politicians: Democrats and the Republican or even European Union debate immigration. Both parties and different nations, debate the path of immigrants to citizenship. Each party and nation has different views and criteria to one becoming an American Citizen or of any nation. Lent is a time we contemplate the “exodus” the paths or the ways (change, transformation , conversion, charity, reaching out to those in the margin, the poor, the voiceless...)that lead every Christian to heaven, or the path to becoming a citizen of that eternal and heavenly city.
In the transfiguration episode in today’s gospel Jesus' face changes in appearance, during prayer, while his cloth becomes dazzling white to the amazement of his disciples, Peter, James and John who were with him. Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus about the glory of the cross in the language of the exodus, known to both of them.
In the exodus God was in charge. Even before then, after the fall of man and woman, he called Abraham, our patriarch, from a pagan territory, UR, in Genesis 12. In today’s first reading, he established a covenant, a bond, a sacred relationship with Abraham, during which God promised him descendants as numerous as the stars as well as the Land, place of rest (katapausis, Gen 15:5-12,17-18). Although, the righteous Abraham put his faith in the Lord, the journey to inherit the Promised Land was never going to be easy: they would encounter, hostile kings, wars, temptations, famine which will take them to Egypt. Moses and Joshua would continue to be God’s viceroys through the exodus, the departure from Egypt through the wilderness, desert, the sufferings, “the cross” the thirstiness, hunger, murmuring, rebellion, and other ups and down as they journeyed towards that Promised Land.
As clearly stated in the Letter to the Hebrews 4:1-13, that promise remains; that exodus departure would be completed in the paschal mysteries of Christ, which lent prepares us for, as cited by Evangelist Luke in today’s gospel, and by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei. While acknowledging the challenges, the deserts and the difficulties of times we are in (n.7), he summons all of us, pastors, everyone to imitate Christ, by setting out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life; towards friendship with God (n.2), towards the heavenly kingdom.
St. Paul an Apostle of the Gentiles experienced the desert himself- beaten, imprisoned, and shipped wrecked and killed. Paul and exemplary leader knew, and reminds us today that our citizenship is not on earthly desert, or old ways of life restricted to misinterpretation of misapplication of the Laws of Moses, as such, but in peaceful, inclusive, and friendly heaven (Phil 3:17:1). As he would have invited the Philippians, Paul invites us to stand firm in Christ, in spite of the trials, temptation, and the wilderness of life that each of us might experience in life in forms of poverty, discrimination racism, ethnocentrisms, lack of good leadership, and effect of corruption and corrupt- socio- political structures etc.
Prayer, courage, perseverance exemplified in the passion of Christ during Holy Week (his exodus), as well as conversion, charity, reaching out to the margins, the poor and the needy, and the type of faith and firmness displayed by Abraham and Paul and Christ, himself, are the true paths that will guarantee us that heavenly citizenship.
1. In the light of today’s readings in what ways do we consider ourselves earthly citizens on a journey to that heavenly city, where we shall encounter Christ!
2. What change, spiritual, social and religious have we noticed in our lives, in recent months, seasons, and years!
3. What are life’s trials that prevent us from change, transformation and conversion from old ways of life to Christ-like values?
4. How often do we keep our baptismal/sacramental promises, covenants, vows and those terms that established our relationship with God, through Christ, his Son?
Homily [alternate] Second Sunday of Lent Year C: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
· Gen 15:5-12, 17-18;
· Ps 27: 1, 7-9, 13-14;
· Phil 3:17–4:1
· Luke 9:28b-36.
Our Citizenship is In Heaven
“Our Citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself,”
These words of Saint Paul to the Church in Philippi capture the essence of what we celebrate today: that all of us, throughout history, are on a journey like the Israelites (Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers 1–10). We are immigrants, migrating to our heavenly Father. As believers, and children of the covenant, where we are now is not our final home. Heaven is our final home. That “promised land” promised by the God of “our fathers,” through our ancestors! It takes courage, patience, courage, endurance, perseverance and attentiveness to the voice of God to get there! It is costly. I mean the "cost of discipleship" to get there!
In today’s first reading, Genesis 15, God unconditionally establishes a covenant, a loving relationship with Abraham, our ancestor. Abraham’s descendants; Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, David, the prophets, Christ, Paul, renewed in us, in the Church, in our communities, and families today, will be as plentiful as the stars in the sky and as the sand of the sea shore. Abraham and his descendant shall be given that land for a possession (Gen 15). Abraham believes and puts his faith in God. He is accredited as a just man, as a righteousness man.
Abraham, by believing, and putting his faith in God, teaches us how to be believing people, a compassionate, church, a believing, family and community. Abraham’s response to God reminds us that our work and Lenten disciplines here on earth will never be in vain. Those spiritual and corporal works of mercy will never be in vain. Abraham teaches us to be docile, faithful, righteous, open to change, renewal, confession, acceptance of the will of God, and the teachings of the Church; conversion, metamorphosis, and transformation from our “UR of Chaldeans” to the “Promised Land.”
On Mount Tabor, in the transfiguration episode of today’s Gospel Jesus' face changes in appearance, during prayer. His cloth becomes dazzling white to the amazement of Peter, James and John, his disciples who were with him. Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus about the glory of the cross in the language of the exodus, known to both of them. Peter wishes to remain on this peaceful, glorious, beautiful earthly mountain of Tabor. But, truly their citizenship were beyond the earthly mount Tabor. Christ speaks to them about his journeys to Jerusalem! Heavenly citizenship can only be accomplished through the Cross and good works we do here on earth, especially during this season of Lent….. It can only be accomplished through, change and conversion, endurance, and charity.
Today we encounter our daily crosses in different forms; the cost of discipleship in different forms. In acts of charity, forgiveness, suffering, pains and penance; the insult we bear for the sake of Christ. What about the pains of the loss of our loved ones. The rejection and discrimination and abuses we experience.
There are some that have experienced the cross of Christ in forms of poverty, terrorism, illnesses, inhumane-deportations, wars and various forms of institutional or organized, socio-political unjust structures– as they journey through this life. Some live in fear! Some in anger! Some in excess materialism and uneasiness to forgive, or feel forgiven by God of their past sins. Whatever, our various challenges in life might have been as Christians- Lent, especially (in this Year of Mercy) re-invites us to patience, a change of old ways of life to a new way of life in Christ, trust and willingness to listen to the voice of Christ, who daily speaks and invites us to his eternal citizenship!
5. In the light of today’s readings in what ways do we consider ourselves earthly citizens on a journey to that heavenly city, where we shall encounter Christ!
6. What change, spiritual, social and religious have we noticed in our lives, in recent months, seasons, and years!
7. What are life’s trials that prevent us from change, repentance, transformation and conversion from old ways of life to Christ-like values?
8. How often do we keep our baptismal/sacramental promises, covenants, vows and those terms that established our relationship with God, through Christ, his Son?