Blog & Pastor Letters

Second Sunday of Lent – February 25, 2024

02-25-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Randy Hoang

“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him!” This week in the scene of the Transfiguration of the Lord, I want to focus on one aspect that is rarely emphasized, which I believe is imperative to our advancing in the Lenten journey: listening to God the Father speaking.

After the disciples climb up the mountain, see the Lord transfigured, and witness the conversation between Jesus, Moses and Elijah, God the Father finally speaks. Note that God the Father only speaks three times in the entire New Testament: at Jesus’ baptism, at the Last Supper, and here.

But what he says is really quite strange when you think about it. After pronouncing Jesus once again as his Beloved Son, God the Father thundered, “Listen to him!” How strange is this? After all, what had Peter, James, and John been doing for the previous two years but listening to Jesus?

They listened to him call them from their boats to be fishers of men. They heard him speak about all his parables. They listened to the Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon on the Plain, and the Bread of Life Discourse. They listened to him teach them how to pray. They listened to him instruct them as they walked along the streets of Palestine. They listened to him correct the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees and console widows, sinners, and many others. They had spent the last two years constantly listening to Jesus!

But God the Father noticed something that they themselves hadn’t grasped. They had been selectively listening to Jesus and they had been particularly tone-deaf to what Jesus had been saying about how he was going to be betrayed, suffer, be tortured, crucified, killed and on the third day be raised.

They didn’t want to hear it. Jesus ended up telling them what would have to happen, not once, not twice, but three separate times, but they didn’t want to hear it. When Good Friday came, most of them were not even present. What they were even less willing to hear was what Jesus said after that, namely, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:24). To be Jesus’ disciple, to be able to follow him, they needed to say no to their earthly ambitions and be crucified with him.

God the Father, who could see their hearts, knew that they were ignoring what Jesus was saying about his need and their need for suffering, that’s why he said, “Listen to him!” The same Father gives us the same imperative. On Ash Wednesday Jesus said, “Repent and Believe!” Have we? Jesus called us to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Are we doing all three? Are we growing in the self-denial, self-death through the crosses God gives us and in following Jesus and his words?

God the Father who calls us to listen to his Son will listen to our prayers when we ask for help to have the trusting, obedient ears needed to follow him. That’s one of the most important parts of Lent.