Lent is a time when we focus on our discipline so that we may draw closer to Christ. Often, we choose something to give up or some extra good works so that we can challenge ourselves and become stronger in our faith. It is a journey that leads us to the cross on Good Friday, and then is celebrated on Easter. This journey helps prepare us for living a life close to the Lord.
In life, we are accustomed to preparation. We progress from kindergarten or first grade to high school or college and beyond. If we want to run a marathon of twenty-six miles, we train by running 5 or 10 miles a day until we are ready. The same is true for Jesus who is preparing to go to the cross. Jesus was not just a victim of circumstances. He is determined to die for us, and we see this preparation in the Gospels. Last week, in the temptation of Jesus, the Spirit led Jesus out into the desert. Jesus was ready for Satan’s challenge. Jesus immediately rejected the temptation and gained strength, and a self-confidence to prepare Him for what He would need to go to the cross. That’s how we grow in the Lord -through the power of God, we overcome temptations to prepare us for the difficult situations which come along in life. Jesus was training to go to the cross. Now, God the Father is encouraging Jesus by calling Jesus , “Beloved,” and telling the Apostles to “Listen to Him.” This is how a father talks to his son. By encouraging him in his love. This love is what gave Jesus courage. It also gave Peter, James, and John an experience that they would never forget., so that when they saw Jesus on the cross , they would remember the Transfiguration.
We all need training and encouragement. This is also true of Jesus. After successfully defeating the attacks of Satan, Jesus, in the Gospel today, received encouragement from his Father “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God our Father, also adds, “Listen to him.” This is the way a father talks to his son “Beloved’ As parents, this is the way we encourage our children. As children, we encourage our parents by obedience. we don’t often speak to each other calling each other “beloved” but that is what we are, and who we are.
So now Jesus is more ready for the cross. He has a purpose and a mission and he is strengthened to know that he can carry it out. Perhaps when Jesus was on the cross He would looked back on this most amazing experience, and would say my father loves me, and I came to do His will. We will hear in the coming weeks how Jesus progresses to Jerusalem, where He would be crucified.
Peter, James and Johns reaction was fear. It may have been too much for them, but they were being prepared for their ministry. What Jesus said to them is also intended for us - don’t be afraid. There is a certain hesitation that comes from drawing closer to God. We should not fear going to confession, partaking in the Eucharist; we need not fear that God is calling us to be more active in our church as an altar server, a lector or reader; or a Eucharistic minister.
God encourages us, because our Father calls us his “beloved.”
Thank you for being here today. See you next week.