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God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.
Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle B
March 4, 2012

This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Genesis 22:1-2,9a,10-13,15-18
Abraham obeyed God and prepared to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 116:10,15,16-17,18-19
A prayer of faithfulness to God

Second Reading
Romans 8:31b-34
God's faithfulness is shown in his offering of his own Son for our salvation.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On the second Sunday of Lent in each Lectionary cycle, the Gospel reading proclaims the story of Jesus' Transfiguration. This event is reported in each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This year, in Lectionary Cycle B, we hear Mark's report of this event.

The context for Mark's Transfiguration story is similar to that found in both Matthew's and Luke's Gospel. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus' prediction about his passion. After this, in each of these Gospels, there is also a discussion of the cost of discipleship.

In each case, Jesus takes three of his disciples—Peter, James, and John—to a high mountain. While they are there, Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus. In Matthew's and Mark's Gospel, there is reference to a conversation among Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, but only Luke's Gospel includes the detail that this conversation is about what Jesus will accomplish in Jerusalem.

Elijah and Moses are significant figures in the history of Israel. Moses led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and received from Yahweh the Ten Commandments. In appearing with Jesus at his Transfiguration, Moses represents the Law that guides the lives of the Jewish people. Elijah is remembered as one of the most important prophets of Israel who helped the Israelites stay faithful to Yahweh. Some Jews believed that Elijah's return would signal the coming of the Messiah for the Jewish people. This belief is evidenced in the question posed by Jesus' disciples after they have witnessed the Transfiguration. The appearance of these two important figures from Israel's history with Jesus signifies Jesus' continuity with the Law and with the prophets and that Jesus is the fulfillment of all that was promised to the people of Israel.

On seeing Jesus with Elijah and Moses and having witnessed his Transfiguration, Peter offers to construct three tents for them. Mark reports that the disciples are terrified by what they have witnessed and that Peter's offer is made out of confusion. We also notice that Peter has reverted from his earlier confession that Jesus is the Messiah, calling Jesus rabbi instead. As if in reply to Peter's confusion, a voice from heaven speaks, affirming Jesus as God's Son and commanding the disciples to obey him. This voice from heaven recalls the voice that was heard at Jesus' baptism.

In his Transfiguration, we see an anticipation of the glory of Jesus' Resurrection. In each of the reports of the Transfiguration, Jesus instructs the disciples to keep secret what they have seen until after the Son of Man has risen from the dead. The disciples' confusion continues as they wonder what Jesus means by rising from the dead. The disciples cannot possibly understand Jesus' Transfiguration until they also witness his passion and death. We hear the story of Jesus' Transfiguration early in Lent, but we have the benefit of hindsight. In our hearing of it, we anticipate Jesus' Resurrection, even as we prepare to remember Jesus' passion and death. 




Max Char 500
Every week before the succeeding Sunday I read through the teachings and explanations of the Readings and find them really directing. I am a leader of liturgy at our St. Christopher's Small Christian Society in Lodwar Diocese, Kenya. When we share what I read from these teachings during the Reading of the Gospel at our Society's weekly meeting it is all applauds! Thank you, Ahsante sana.
Love the background information and detail. Really clarifies the reading for me as well as provides valuable insight. Thanks very much!
Thank you! It helps share the Gospel with the children in my CCD class who do not attend mass regularly. And for those who do attend mass are then familiar and tell me they listen during mass. Love the fourth graders and their honesty! Toni

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