SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT REFLECTION: “CHANGE”: AN INDISPENSABLE ATTRIBUTE OF LENT

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
REFLECTION:  “CHANGE”: AN INDISPENSABLE ATTRIBUTE OF LENT
Apparently, the word “change” strikes a controversial sentiment in the mind of an average Nigerian today, owing to the fact that before the 2015 general elections, the word “change” rented the air by the proponents of the APC political party, and majority of the citizens thought a real change was on the way… However, till date, Nigerians are still expecting the change which seemed to be far-fetched due to the ongoing economic recession and hardships. Many cried out – Could this be the change? (Since things changed negatively) Or were they simply advocating for a change of the leading political party at the point of the campaign? While some are still holding firm, believing that the proposed change, although slow, would be realized. We pray that God would grant them the grace to realize a positive change for Nigeria in the light of what they campaigned.
Dear friends in Christ, do not be dismayed or taken aback at my use of the word “change”. In this context, I speak of a positive change that concerns us in this season of Lent; ipso facto, I speak of an indispensable attribute of Lent. The word change simply means to “make or become different”. In a positive contextual usage, the word comes to be synonymous with the word “repent”. The word bears the same sentiment with the Greek verb “metanoeó” (μετανοέω). It becomes “metonoia” (μετάνοια) when expressed as a noun. In classical Greek, Metanoia means changing one’s mind about someone or something; having an “afterthought” (meta {after/beyond} nous/noia {mind}). This simply indicates “a transformative change of heart/mind; especially a spiritual conversion. This expression finds its way into biblical usage to depict a “change of mind”. An example of this can be found in the book of Jonah. When the Ninevites changed from their evil ways at the preaching of Jonah, we were told that God repented/changed his mind about the disaster he meant for them (Jonah 3:10).
The season of Lent offers us the opportunity to change from the negative desires that gives us momentary pleasures and offend God. It offers us the privilege to retreat from one’s comfortable ambient and enter into the Lenten desert for a more intimate union and experience of God. This we see in the First Reading. In the first reading, we read how God proposed a change of environment for Abraham (Gen. 12:1-4A). God asked him to leave the land of his people (city of Ur) to a new place he would give him, in order to enter into covenant with Him. It is pertinent to note that the city of Ur of the Chaldeans was the wealthiest city at that point in time. It was located in Mesopotamia at the Western portion of the Euphrates River; the city flourished in commerce, agriculture, abundance of resources etc. in fact, the history and wealth of this city, exceeds that of the land of Egypt with its pyramids. However, God called Abraham to leave that region to a land He would give to him, and in faith, Abraham obeyed for he trusted God; he believed that God would give him something better, and so it was (he was richly blessed). Today we claim to partake in the blessings of Abraham, our father in faith.  Likewise, we are called to repent/change our hearts by “leaving” our “comfortable ambient” (pleasures, earthly desires, etc.) in this Lenten season in order to strengthen our intimacy with God.
In the same vein, the Second letter to Timothy (2 TM 1:8B-10) brings to the fore another perspective of change. It talks about a definitive change that man experiences from mortality to immortality (2 Tim 1:10). As indicated by Paul, this happens in light of the fact that Jesus “demolished death and brought life and immortality through the gospel. Therefore, he called Timothy to bear the hardship he was experiencing for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. Likewise, Paul encourages us today to persevere in doing good in the hardship/Lenten experience of penance, that at the end, our perishable bodies would be transformed/changed to immortality in paradise.
This nature of change/transformation was demonstrated by Jesus in the Gospel reading according to Matthew (Mt.17:1-9). We read that he took his disciples to Mount Tabor and there they saw a great change in the appearance of Jesus: “His face shone like the sun…” In the perspective of Matthew, Jesus becomes the New Moses; for Moses’ face shown like the sun after encountering God on Mount Sinai, that the people were afraid to look at his face (Exodus 34:29). This experience of Jesus shows how the mortal bodies of the righteous would be transformed/changed at the day of resurrection. This is so significant because it happened few days before His death and resurrection. That was why He commanded his disciples to remain silent about the vision until after He has risen from the dead. In biblical theology, this is known as the “Messianic Secret”. The Messianic secret the refers to a motif primarily in the Gospel in which Jesus is portrayed as commanding the evil spirits to be silent and not to reveal who He was, and in some cases, commanding His followers to be silent about His Messianic mission, just as He strictly told His disciples (after Peter had declared that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God), not to tell anyone that He was the Christ (Mt. 16:20) Likewise, he tells his disciples in today’s gospel not to reveal to anyone about the vision of the Transfiguration until after He has risen from the dead.
Dearest friends in Christ, we are called to embrace a “metanoic attitude” in this season of lent. Put differently, we are called to a change of heart, repentance, atonement, and interior conversion; this is what Lent is all about – change for the better: an indispensable attribute of Lent.
As we patiently await the promised change in our present economic crisis, let us be the change ourselves. We can utilize this period to be uncomfortable in order that the uncomfortable ones might be comfortable. In other words, being charitable to those in need. Let us aspire for justice and fairness and continue to trust in the Lord (just as Abraham did in the first reading), for the Lord is merciful and love; as the psalmist of the day puts it: “May your love/mercy be upon us O Lord as we place all our trust in you” (Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22).
May God grant us the grace to realize this change through Christ out Lord. Amen.

Shalom!

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