The thought of anyone being prepared to sacrifice their son for any reason is extraordinary. In today’s first reading we hear that Abraham was prepared to follow the will of God and sacrifice his son Isaac. We hear how Isaac carried the wood up a mountain in preparation for the sacrifice and how God intervened once He knew that Abraham feared him enough to go through with his instruction.

In a few weeks we will hear how God sacrificed his Son for the sake of mankind and this time there would be no intervention to stop the sacrifice. Jesus, the Lamb of God, carried another piece of wood up a hill and became the sacrifice offered up for the Father, by the Father to atone for the sins of mankind. Following this sacrifice there would be no need for any other blood sacrifice to atone for sins. Many others, however, would shed their own blood and continue to shed their own blood today, through faith in Jesus Christ. For those who have been martyred, they will see Christ in all His glory. For us, here in 2024, we need to rely on the account in today’s Gospel to get a glimpse of what that glory looks like when we are reminded of the Transfiguration.

That day when Jesus took the apostles up a high mountain and they encountered Moses and Elijah, two key figures from the Old Testament who had their own encounters with God on mountains. Moses representing the Law and Elijah representing the prophets. Imagine being there that day, imagine it from the apostles’ perspective. They were asked to go for a walk with their teacher, he took them up a high mountain and when they got there, there was this almighty light, brighter than anything they had ever seen before. Their teacher was illuminated and there before their eyes they saw two of the greatest men in their history, talking with their teacher. They were obviously well versed in their history, to be able to recognise these men, who had died centuries earlier. Peter, while being extremely frightened, offered to make tents for Jesus and the holy men. But just as they thought nothing else could top what they were seeing there came a voice from heaven, declaring that Jesus is the Son of God. Then as quickly as it had all started, it was over.

As they made their way down the mountain, they were told to keep what they had seen to themselves until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. An expression they had not heard before, so they discussed what that could mean amongst themselves.

This is quite a short Gospel, but there is so much in it. I think, there is a risk that because we hear some of the Gospel stories so often that there is a danger that the impact is lost for us. Nowadays, no doubt, some clever people could recreate the Transfiguration with fancy graphics, special lighting and hidden speakers and maybe they could convince some people that what they have created was real, although the vast majority of people would probably scoff at the idea. But 2000 years ago, there was no technology that could have replicated what has been recorded in the Gospel. We are told to ‘listen to Him’, and we are told this by God the Father.

On that mountain, Jesus allowed his glory to be seen, and God proclaimed Jesus as his Son. As we leave Mass we are asked glorify the Lord by our lives or to go and announce the Gospel of the Lord. We do this by how we interact with those we encounter, we don’t have to stand on a street corner with a bible in our hand. We announce the Gospel of the Lord by loving God and loving our neighbour and when people feel the love we share with them, they will ask us why do we do what we do? Through those encounters we can introduce people to Jesus and glorify His Name.

Another way of showing our love is in how we treat the poor. Last Friday was our voluntary Fast Day for CAFOD. If we remembered to fast [and even if we forgot to] we can donate the money we would have used for our food to CAFOD. Their appeal this Lent is concentrating on helping hard working families. Their website mentions James, who is a fisherman1, he is aware that many of his colleagues are lost at sea each month, but he still needs to go out onto the ocean to work so that his family can eat. He cannot afford the equipment that would keep him safe or warn him about storms. He still goes out, because if he doesn’t, quite simply, his family does not eat. People like James and his family are reliant on our generosity; every penny and pound counts in the fight against poverty. If you are able to donate that would be wonderful, but even if you are unable to donate, please pray for our brothers and sisters who find themselves in this position and thank God for the many blessings He bestows on us.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Second Sunday of Lent

CCC 554-556, 568: the Transfiguration
CCC 59, 145-146, 2570-2572: the obedience of Abraham
CCC 153-159: characteristics of faith
CCC 2059: God manifests his glory to make known his will
CCC 603, 1373, 2634, 2852: Christ is for us

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Iraq.
  • Those preparing for Sacraments this Easter.
  • Those working for CAFOD and other agencies to support the poor all over the world.

1 Lent Appeal 2024 (