The Size of a Soul

User’s Guide to Sunday, March 12

(photo: Wikicommons/public domain)

Sunday, March 12, is the Second Sunday of Lent. Mass Readings: Genesis 12:1-4; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9.

The Gospel today, focused on the Transfiguration, reveals the truth about Jesus — and us.

It all starts when Jesus takes Peter, John and James up Mount Tabor. As they watch, “he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” They are witnessing the true glory of Jesus Christ, who is God and man. But from this we can also learn the true glory of human beings, who are both body and soul, says St. Thomas Aquinas. “At his transfiguration, Christ showed his disciples the splendor of his beauty, to which he will shape and color those who are his,” he wrote. “He will reform the body of our lowness configured to the body of his glory.”

All of the readings today are meant to remind us that we are called to something much greater than our current state. In the first reading, God tells Abram to leave his homeland and go to a land God will give him — and “I will make of you a great nation. … All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.”

St. Paul, in the second reading, celebrates “Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”

If we are to be immortal in Christ and “a great nation” for God, than we are great indeed.

And this is precisely why care for our souls is so important — and so difficult.

Today’s Gospel starts to explain.

First, it shows Jesus visited by Moses and Elijah.

The two figures have a lot in common, says St. John Chrysostom: They both spoke on behalf of the faithless, they both faced down tyrants, and they both led people away from idolatry; neither was eloquent, and both were poor.

In other words, they both saw the true importance and grandeur of the human person — and both responded with extreme humility.

The apostles are invited to do the same. “This is my beloved Son of whom I am well pleased. Listen to him,” says the Father. They heard the same advice from Jesus’ mother, Mary: “Do whatever he tells you.”

In a way, they are like Abram, being given a great promise and invited on a great journey, where they will “Bear our share of the hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God,” as St. Paul puts it.

It is a journey into the places that need to be conformed to God — including in our own souls.

Tom Hoopes is writer in

residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

He is the author of What

Pope Francis Really Said.