It is good for us to be here today, on this second Sunday of Lent. Each Sunday we are invited like the Apostles to separate ourselves from the world for a little while and go up the mountain to be alone with Jesus because he wants to reveal to us who he truly is. At Mass we get to experience what Peter, James and John experienced if we have faith. With faith, we can enter into the cloud of the presence of the Holy Spirit through our song and prayer. We can hear the voice of God speak to us through the reading of the Word. And in the Eucharist, Jesus appears to us to inspire us. The reason we are here is because he is here. We have to remind ourselves of that so that we don’t lose focus and when we go back down the mountain and return to our daily lives we may not lose faith. We have been chosen by the Lord to be with him on this special day. We are that important to him. So let us have that same inspiration of Peter who realized that he was in God’s presence and say with him “Lord it is good that we are here.”

As we continue this season of Lent, we get to hear that same voice of God speak to us those words he spoke to the apostles on the mountain: “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Lent helps us to listen more to Jesus and follow closer to the one who saved us and called us to a holy way of life. That is the goal of our sacrifices and penances. It’s not just saying no to pleasurable things but saying yes to God’s love as the greatest thing we can have. It’s a time to not just say I love God but to show it: I love God more than T.V., more than meat, more than candy. Although Jesus said for us to keep sacrifices private so that only God knows, last week, as a way of encouraging one another, the teens shared what they were sacrificing. It was inspiring to hear. One said that a friend at school asked why he wasn’t eating meat and he said because it’s Lent. So it is one way our youth evangelize their Christian friends who don’t have this 40 day preparation for Easter. Our Catholic Faith is a great gift that helps us get closer to Jesus. When our children take their faith seriously it is a witness to others, and a sign that their parents take their faith seriously, also. So I thank all the parents who are being like Jesus who took time and pulled Peter, James, and John aside to give them the living faith. You are preparing them to be successful not just in this life, to face on the trials and sadness, but to be successful in eternal life when their resurrected bodies will be transfigured like Jesus in Heavenly glory.

My brother was teaching his little daughter about the significance of Lent and explained why we make sacrifices. Afterwards, his daughter decided that she would give up candy. Not bad for a four year old. Then she said she would give up broccoli, too. Well, that would not be too sacrificial for some of us. The point is that even young children can understand that we pray, fast, give alms and do works of charity in order to do penance for sins and to learn detachment from things in the world so that we can show God that his love is the most important thing for us. And we do it in union with Jesus’ own prayers and sacrifices. The more we appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us the more generous we are with our own sacrifices. And as we sacrifice, something important happens - we undergo a change, we replace old bad habits with new good ones, we grow in virtue, we begin to be renewed and transformed and become more like Christ. And that is the deeper reason behind Lent, to change and be transformed.

As we contemplate the Transfiguration of Jesus we remember that it happened just before the darkest time in his life: His Passion and Death. So the Transfiguration reveals his Divine Life and future glory in order to encourage the disciples when the difficult trials came. They knew Jesus before but now they realized even more that he is God. They witnessed Jesus talking to dead men but they were alive, not yet in Heaven, but in Purgatory waiting for the Resurrection. So our Lenten sacrifices become more vibrant and meaningful when we keep the new life of the Resurrection in our mind and hearts. When Peter, James, and John went back down the Mountain they were transformed. That is what we should be like when we leave Mass. We should feel more alive like we just spoke with Jesus.

Once we experience the brilliant light of Christ’s love then we want to purge ourselves now and not have to experience purgatory later. And Lent helps us obtain this purification. That is why the sacrament of Confession is an important part of this season. It is the Sacrament of Penance. Now many are afraid of going. We don’t like to admit our sins. Darkness is afraid of light. During the Transfiguration of Jesus, the apostles fell down in fear. But God wants to forgive us not to condemn us. And so Jesus touched them and said “do not be afraid.” That is what he does in Confession. So if you have not been in awhile, do what the Holy Father Pope Francis recently said: “Go directly to confession, don’t wait!” The pope talked about those who say they confess directly to God and that’s good he said. But our sins also affect the Body of Christ, our brothers and sisters in the Church. Again St. Paul said that Christ saved us and called us to a holy way of life. When we act unholy it hurts not just our relationship with Christ but our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. And so the pope said it is necessary to ask forgiveness from our brothers and sisters and the whole Church through the person of the priest.

God’s grace is here to help us if we humble ourselves to receive it. So brothers and sisters, it is good that we are here in the presence of Jesus. Like him, let us bear our share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God. Let us be generous with our sacrifices this Lent. And let us not let shame or fear prevent us from being touched by the mercy of Jesus in Confession and hearing his words, “Do not be afraid.” When is the last time you went to confession? Don’t wait. We all need it. G.K. Chesterton, a famous Catholic writer, said the saints were the ones who humbly admitted that they were sinners. Let use the grace of this penitential season to transform all of us who are sinners into holy saints who go back down the mountain, who leave this mass, and go back into the world to follow Jesus to the very end.

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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