II SUNDAY OF LENT
genesis 12:1-4a; 2 timothy 1:8b-10; matthew 17:1-9
a king once received a gift of two peregrine falcons, the most magnificent birds he had ever seen. he gave the falcons to his head falconer to be trained.
months later, the head falconer informed the king that though one falcon was flying majestically, the other bird had not moved from its branch. the king summoned sorcerers from all the land; no one could make the bird fly. the king then ordered his chief minister to get a farmer… someone from the countryside.
the next morning, the king was thrilled to see the falcon soaring high above the palace. he summoned the farmer, and asked: «how did you make the falcon fly?» the farmer replied: «your highness, i only cut the branch where the bird was sitting.»
if we want to find our place in life, we need to get off our branches, we need to leave our comfort zones. this is the thrust of today’s readings.
in the first reading, GOD tells abram (later abraham) to leave his homeland and his father’s house (his «branch»), and journey to the unknown. while abram experiences difficulties and sufferings because of this «leaving», the result is a life of blessing and glory.
in the verses preceding today’s gospel text of the transfiguration, matthew tells us «jesus began to show his disciples that he must… undergo great suffering… and be killed and on the third day be raised.» and today’s passage ends: jesus commanded them: «do not tell the vision to anyone until the son of man has been raised from the dead.»
matthew thus indicates that there is a close and necessary connection between suffering and glory, death and life. he skilfully highlights this point: the three disciples who are at the transfiguration will be at jesus’ agony at gethsemane! to experience life, we have to experience, paradoxically, suffering and death.
however, it is not easy to leave our comfort zones; our very natural impulse is to stay in a comfort zone. surrounded by magnificence and glory, peter wants to remain: «i will make three tents»! but peter must listen to jesus’ teaching that the way to fullness of life is through suffering and death, through a scary unknown.
am i ready to leave behind my comfort zone; am i ready to journey through uncertainty and difficulty? what are the «branches» i must leave/cut to live my identity and experience new life?