Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent 2010
The murder of two children recently, and eight year old and a twelve year old, has affected everyone. The unjust death of the innocent brings shock, horror and outrage when it is so close to home. Yet, the reaction also ranges from deep sympathy for the families involved through to bullying and abuse on Facebook and calls to show no mercy to the perpetrators. The best and the worst in people is revealed. And so the cycle goes on. It is not only the immediate families of both victim and criminal who are affected but we all are as our society tries to come to terms with such things and find a reasonable response.
These events show us graphically that we all become victims of crime and sin. One evil deed generates others and we all suffer as a consequence. The confidence, optimism and faith we have in each other is shaken. All the more so when it is so close to us. But is also the case when we consider the tragic events around the world. Dreams of an ever better world recede before us. We are all touched for better or worse.
Today we are presented with another epiphany in the Gospel of Luke. Previously, we read of the one at Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River. There the voice of the Father confirmed Jesus mission. Here on the mountain the same voice urges the disciples to listen to Jesus. Jesus was not to be listened to as one amongst equals with Moses and Elijah. He is rather the beloved Son of God who is to be listened to. And in the midst of this revelation of his glory it is also confirmed that to full-fill his mission he would undergo much rejection, suffering and ultimately death. This was not in Peter's understanding of Jesus purpose.
When he was baptised by John the Baptist Jesus was not so much identifying with us as sinners. He is without sin. Rather, he is identifying himself with us as victims. Victims of sin and evil. We are all the victims of sin going right back to the beginning. Jesus died as an innocent victim of the sin of others. This reality of life is described in the story of Adam's fall in Genesis. All of us, from a new born infant to the eldest, we are all innocent victims of every sin. From the effects of this this we need to be healed in Baptism. From our own personal sin, for which we are responsible, we need forgiveness.
As our human history shows we seem incapable of changing this state of affairs on our own. We need each other and we need a saviour. Not a saviour who will come and destroy all evil doers as in the Hollywood version. Because that would be the end of all of us! We need a saviour who can transform us and our world.
Jesus, unlike us, is able to draw a line in the sand. His reaction to his unjust accusation is not retaliation or revenge. He simply accepts the consequences of his stand for the poor and oppressed obeying the Father's will against the powerful. He exposes their weakness in making him the scapegoat for their own failures.
The mystical encounter on the mountain of Transfiguration encouraged the disciples and helped them understand the true nature of Jesus' mission. But they were not to remain there on the mountain. His mission and theirs was down the bottom of the mountain in the world of everyday life where he and his church were sent to bring Good News. He was to bring forgiveness certainly for sin. But also to bring healing and compassion to people for those things which diminish and destroy them and over which they have no control. Lent is a time of repentance in which we call a halt in each of us personally to the sin which enslaves us and at the same time ripples out to diminish everyone else.
Lent is also a time when we, like Jesus, can identify with all who are victims of injustice and sin for we have been reborn in baptism. His mission and ours then is to bring about by God's grace the transfiguration of our lives as we share in the divine life of the Trinity.