Year A: 2nd Sunday of Lent

God is defined as the One who cannot rest until all of humanity is gathered under his wings.

Genesis 12: 1-4a; 2nd Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9

It is the nature of God to call humanity out from a sense of self-sufficiency and security, both of which stifle our true spirit. The promise to Abraham is not to make him the father of a great nation for any exclusive reason but so that his name “will be used as a blessing… All the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you.” 

It is riveting to realise that through the whole of the covenant of the Old Testament runs the thread of election for a reason. An exclusive choice for an inclusive reason. God is defined as the One who cannot rest until all of humanity is gathered under his wings. God “obeys” the dynamic of human identity as hearers, listeners and partners in life. It is not human to stand as discreet entities without need of each other – even if the nature of this dialogue dictates that it begins with the particular – a person – like the intimate talk between lovers. God’s identity is revealed through the nature of the intimacy of the dialogue. Eventually, God is unable to conduct this dialogue without becoming fully part of creation – in the unfolding in the human. All else is preparation for that.  There is a sort of breathing back and forth. From the individual (Abraham) to all humanity; from all humanity to Christ, in a pattern of rhythmic breathing.  Until we see that Christ shows how man and God are One, as waves are both waves and ocean.  We can speak of God woven through all creation.

So, the author of Timothy talks of “Good News” and of humanity on the receiving end of power, salvation, a call to holiness, not for anything it has done but for a purpose, and by a grace coming to it from God. That is how it has always been from the beginning of time – but has now been revealed fully in the person of Jesus Christ. Death has been done to death! We need to work hard to recapture the stunning, mind-exploding meaning given here to this ‘good news’. It redefines what we mean by being human – simple and unadorned. It is not easy to grasp the full implication of the words and reality of: “he abolished death” How easy it has been for us to trivialise this!  Death is no small thing to have “abolished”!  This “Good News” might take us a while to comprehend. This is captured in Matthew’s account of the way Jesus is “transformed” for three disciples one day in Galilee – the sudden insertion of the blinding light of divine mountainous reality into humanity’s plain life. God announces into the human story: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to Him.’ We again take it for granted that there is a voice and it is God speaking and saying this man is His Son! But this has never been said in the whole 14 billion years since the Big Bang!  A man is spoken of as God’s beloved Son. Why? His identity as the key to uniting God and humanity is not a private one but is intended for the whole of humanity. But amazing paradox: ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’ The Good News can only rest, in the end, on an insertion of the “mountainous” divine into the flat plainness of our humanity even unto death but then to Resurrection and Transformation – to Transfiguration.