Second Sunday of Lent
16 March 2003
Scriptual Reference: Genesis 22:1-2; 9a; 10-13; 15-18; Romans 8:31b-34; Mark 9:2-10

The Road to Emmaus Leads through the Hill of Calvary

       Getting lost is no fun. A few years ago I traveled to Rome with a group of students from St. Meinrad Seminary. During one of the tours of the various churches, I began to feel ill and decided to head back to the hotel. A trip that I would have to make alone, but one I felt comfortable making. Despite being tired and under the weather, I was pretty confident that I knew how to get back, and besides it would only be about a forty minute walk. Well, it didnít take me too long to get lost. One wrong turn led to another and another to another, and what was to be a forty minute walk turned out to be a three hour hike. Getting lost is never any fun.

       On the other hand there are times and moments that we never want to end or places that we just donít want to leave. The peace, joy and happiness that we experience during these moments fill us with a desire to make them last as long as possible. This is where we find Peter in todayís Gospel. Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the mountain, and there Peter sees something that he had never seen before. Something that was more amazing than any of the miracles that he had seen Jesus perform. Although he did not fully understand what was taking place, he knew that what he was witnessing was truly magnificent. Jesus was transfigured right before his eyes, and he was wearing a white robe that was whiter than anything Peter had seen before. Peter didnít want the moment to end. He wasnít ready to leave the mountain top. So, Jesus response, then, to Peterís request of building three tents must have been a huge downer for Peter. For not only did Jesus not give permission for this request, but he told Peter, James and John that they were not to tell anyone about this event until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Not really the response Peter wanted. In fact, Jesusí response confused him even more. What exactly did this rising from the dead stuff mean?

       But what Jesus was telling Peter, James, and John that day is the same message he gives us today: to get to the Resurrection, we must travel down the road to Calvary. Jesus gave the apostles that day a foretaste of the Resurrection so that they will understand and appreciate more clearly the suffering and death that Jesus had to endure.

       Lent is a season in which we all travel down the road to Calvary. That to get to Easter Sunday, we must first go through Good Friday. And so we make sacrifices and go through exercises of self-discipline so that we might understand and appreciate more clearly the Crucifixion of Christ and his Resurrection from the dead. We do these Lenten deeds so that we may move closer and enter more deeply into the mystery of these two events. The Crucifixion of Christ and his Resurrection are gifts that have been freely given to each one of us. To receive these gifts we must take the time to look around us and see just on which road we are truly traveling. Are we on the road that goes through Calvary? Have we veered off from this road? Do we seem to make one wrong turn after another? Do we avoid the potholes and other obstacles along the way because we donít have the patience or time to deal with them?

       The truth is, and we all know this, life is full of moments of getting lost, in which we might find ourselves alone or in despair. And life is full of moments that we donít want to end, in which we experience the joy, peace and happiness of Christ. And so we walk, we walk down the road to Calvary with Christ at our side. Yes, there may be times in which we do veer off, but Christ has given each of us a gift that will help us to find the main road and get back on the right path. This gift is Himself. We find him in the hanging on the cross and in the empty tomb. We find him in these words of truth and in the life of the sacraments. In a couple of weeks, we will have the opportunity to experience the love and mercy of Christ through our Parish Penance service. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an awesome opportunity to encounter Christ. That in this sacrament not only do we encounter Christ on the road to Calvary, but we meet him on the mountain top and see him clothed in his white robe of love and mercy.

       Trusting in this, we walk down this road. We walk this road with faith. Faith in the goodness of God and in his promise of salvation. This is what Jesus wanted Peter to understand and know. The same Peter who fled Jesus when he was arrested, who denied Jesus three times, and who was nowhere to be found when Jesus walked that road to his death. Jesus wanted Peter to know that despite his sins He still loved him. That is why Jesus freely went to the crossóout of love for Peter, for you, for me, for every human being. How can we fully appreciate and understand what the Resurrection means for us if we do not visit the hill of Calvary and see the Crucifixion? We travel this road to the Resurrection, a road that goes through the hill of Calvary, because we follow Christ and trust that he will take us home. +

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