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Second Sunday of Lent: 25 February

From desert to mountain

 From desert to mountain  ING-008
23 February 2024

The English word “Lent” originally meant springtime and the season itself is deeply rooted in our human consciousness and in our world. We start in symbolic terrains, large landscapes that are testing and untamed, fearsome and strangely beautiful. Desert, where we accompanied the Lord on the first Sunday of Lent, covers a third of the earth’s surface. Mountains, that we climb this Sunday, make up a quarter. Then, on the third Sunday, we abandon the wild and open and vast, and enter the city of Jerusalem with John, there to remain until the Son of man should have risen from the dead.

The Transfiguration takes place on a mountain summit, ancient and frequent place of divine encounter, where Abraham had almost to perform the horror of human sacrifice, giving God everything and more, and where Moses saw God face to face and received the law. God spared Isaac, but he did not spare Jesus. There are three predictions of the Passion in Mark: the first comes immediately before the Transfiguration and the other two soon after. The Transfiguration is the forward vision and barely understood epiphany of the completion of the paschal mystery. He charged them to tell no one what they had seen. But how could they, in their confusion and bewilderment? (Peter) did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid.

Jesus is three times proclaimed in the gospel of Mark: at the beginning, the middle and the end. At his baptism: thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased; at his Transfiguration: This is my beloved Son; listen to him; and finally, in the prophetic voice of a Roman centurion as the dead Jesus hangs on the cross: truly this man was the Son of God!

So, in this second week of Lent, we move forward in our baptismal journey, on our paschal pathway, towards the resolution, when suffering and death and life will come together in their just configuration. But the paschal mystery is not simply a moment in time: it is the pervasive hope threaded through our faith in Jesus Christ; it is the final exegesis of human existence, the true explanation, the end of all our longing.

By Fr Edmund Power osb