Second Sunday of Lent (B)
February 25, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.






O God, who have commanded us
to listen to your beloved Son,
be pleased, we pray,
to nourish us inwardly by your word,
that, with spiritual sight made pure,
we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

First Reading (Gn 22:1-2,9A,10-13,15-18)

God tested Abraham. God said to him, “Abraham!” And Abraham said, “Here I am.” 2 God said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” 9 When Abraham and Isaac came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he replied, “Here I am.” 12 The angel said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Responsorial Psalm (116:10,15,16-17,18-19

R/. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

Second Reading (Rom 8:31B-35)

If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? Is it God who justifies? 34 Who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, and indeed, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us? 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Verse Before The Gospel (cf. Mt 17:5)


Gospel (Mk 9:2-10)

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 Peter did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

Catena Nova

Jesus took the three apostles up to the mountain for three reasons: first, to show them the glory of his divinity, then to declare himself Israel’s redeemer as he had already foretold by the prophets, and thirdly to prevent the apostles’ being scandalized at seeing him soon afterward enduring those human sufferings which he had freely accepted for our sake (St. Ephrem the Syrian).

Everything about the blessed divine nature is truly beautiful and desirable, and is visible only to those whose minds have been purified. Anyone who gazes at its brilliant rays and its graces, partakes of it to some extent, as though his own face were touched by dazzling light. That is why Moses’ countenance was glorified when he spoke with God (Ex 34:29) ….Our Lord Jesus Christ, however, possessed that radiance in his own right. He did not need prayer to illuminate his body with divine light, but he showed how God’s splendor would come to the saints and how they would appear. For the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father (Mt 13:43), and when they have all become divine light, they will behold, as children of that light, Christ’s indescribable divine radiance. (St. Gregory Palamas).

O infinite God, you are the first and last experience of my life. Yes, really you yourself, not just a concept of you, not just the name that we ourselves have given you! You have descended upon me in water and the Spirit ... Your word and your wisdom is in me, not because I comprehend you with my understanding, but because I have been recognized by you as your friend. O, grow in me, enlighten me, shine forth ever stronger in me, eternal light. May you alone enlighten me, you alone speak to me. May all that I know apart from you be nothing more than a chance traveling companion on the journey toward you. (Karl Rahner)

No escape from paradox: Wisdom manifests itself, and is yet hidden. The more it hides, the more it is manifest; and the more it is manifest, the more it is hidden. For God is known when apprehended as unknown, and is heard when we realize that we do not know the sounds of God's voice. The words uttered are words of full silence, and they are bait to draw us into silence. The truths manifested are full of hiddenness, and their function is to hide us, with themselves, in God from whom they proceed. (Thomas Merton)

Throughout my whole life, during every moment I have lived, the world has gradually been taking on light and fire for me, until it has come to envelop me in one mass of luminosity, glowing from within ... The purple flush of matter fading imperceptibly into the gold of spirit, to be lost finally in the incandescence of a personal universe ... This is what I have learned from my contact with the earth -- the diaphany of the divine at the heart of a glowing universe, the divine radiating from the depths of matter aflame (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin). 

Who are You, sweet Light, who inundate me and enlighten me and enlighten the night of my heart? You guide me just like a mother's hand; but if You leave me, I cannot advance a single step. You are space that surrounds my being and in which it is concealed. If you abandon me, I fall into the abyss of nothingness, from where You called me into being. You are nearer to me than myself, more intimate than my inmost being. And yet, no one touches You or understands You and You break the bonds of every name: Holy Spirit - Eternal Love! (St. Edith Stein/ Benedicta of the Cross) 

What we see in the transfiguration is a revelation of our own future greatness. We shall participate in Christ’s glory. How can this be? It is a gift that is part of the inheritance that is Christ’s. He gives this to us as members of his Body and he can do it because he is the Son of God…. Even in this world we are God’s children by grace. What we are going to become as a result of this adoption had not yet appeared. It will appear when God’s lightnings have shaken the earth to its foundations, and those who have been justified will rise to glory…. Their bodies will be resplendent like that of Christ on Tabor; they will be transfigured by the very same clarity that illuminates the incarnate Word (Bl. Columba Marmion).


     He Gets Us wasn't the only message squeezed between ads for Dunkin' Donuts, Doritos, and Mountain Dew during the Super Bowl.  Not to be outdone, Catholic actors Mark Wahlberg and Jonathan Roumie — who plays Jesus in the series The Chosen — appeared in an ad for the prayer app Hallow reminding people Lent started that coming week.  The CEO of Hallow, Alex Jones (no relation) reported the app had the most downloads in its history immediately following the ad saying, "It was the most downloads in a single minute we’d ever seen. We’re already ranking ahead of Netflix on the App Store charts and Lent hasn’t even started yet." And on Ash Wednesday it made history by reaching No. 1 on Apple's app store — the first religious app ever to do so.

     But that's not the end of the story.  It was later reported that CBS/Paramount+ did some editing to the commercial that was designed to eliminate certain pictures of Jesus and of the Cross.  In the original video, Wahlberg walks into a church with a large image of Christ above the altar emblazoned with the words I AM WHO AM which was edited out from the version that aired. Images of a family making the Sign of the Cross at the dinner table were also censored as was the cross traced with ashes on Roumie's forehead.  

     Commenting on the "offense of the cross," when compared to the foot-washing scenes in the He Gets Us ads, Matthew Becklo asks,

What is the cultural message in all this? That the name of Jesus does not cross the line—but the proclamation of his divinity does. That his message of love is not a problem—but the image of his cross…. is…. [T]hat Catholicism’s stubborn presentation of the Incarnation and Crucifixion through art and signs and rituals has to be cropped and chopped and airbrushed.  ("The Offense of the Cross," Catholic World Report;; February 13, 2024)

     None of this is new, of course.  St. Gregory Nazianzen, for instance, posed the "problem" of the cross in the Fourth Century as follows by asking this troubling question:

Why would the blood of his only Son be agreeable to the Father who did not wish to accept Isaac offered as a burnt offering by Abraham, but replaced that human sacrifice by that of a ram? Is it not obvious that the Father accepts the sacrifice not because he insists upon it or has some need of it, but to carry out his plan. . . Let us pass over the rest in reverent silence (Oratio XLV).

     Indeed, the shadow of the cross looms behind today's gospel which, from its placement early in the Lenten season, is given precisely to fortify the disciples -- and us --  for Christ's impending death whereby "he revealed his glory in the presence of chosen witnesses and filled with the greatest splendor that bodily form which he shares with all humanity, that the scandal of the Cross might be removed from the hearts of his disciples" (Preface for the Feast of the Transfiguration).

    I was a bit offended too when I noticed, inexplicably, that the Lectionary omits a verse from the first reading which I happen to think is crucial.  The missing Verse 14 reads: And Abraham named that site Adonai [Yahweh]-yireh, whence the present saying, “On the mount of the LORD [Yahweh] there is vision.” I say it’s crucial because the verse provides a bridge to the gospel of the Transfiguration that took place on another mountain, Tabor, where another vision occurred that completes the one accorded to Abraham on Mt. Moriah. This vision made clear to the three apostles who were present that this Jesus was indeed the beloved Son whom Isaac prefigured just as Abraham, as it turned out, prefigured his Father.  He was, moreover, set firmly on the path to Jerusalem where God did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all (II).

   But how to cross the bridge from Moriah to Tabor?  Well, to quote theologian James Alison

that whole self-giving of Jesus becomes possible because Jesus is obedient to God, giving himself in the midst of violent humans who demand blood, so as finally to unmask and annul the system of murderous mendacity which the world is....leading to the realization that behind the death of Jesus there was no violent God, but a loving God who was planning a way to get us out of our violent and sinful life. Not a human sacrifice to God, but God’s sacrifice to humans” (Raising Abel, 46)

    So then Christ is the final and all-sufficient Victim who frees us from the cycles of violence that create endless scapegoats upon whom to vent the tense build-up of human rivalry. The genius of Christianity is to show us how to short-circuit spirals of violence through its proclamation of the One whose Blood has been shed once for all in a sacrifice unlike all others in the history of culture and religion – precisely because there is no longer need for any other Victim.  I can’t think of any more radiant vision with the power to transfigure us. 

    But lest we ever feel smug about our “genius,” it bears reminding how much human sacrifice, including child sacrifice, is still with us in other forms. I needn’t recount the awful disclosures to which the church itself has been subject, to which we can add the plight of trafficked children, the scandalous rates of children bound by poverty, the child-victims of war in Ukraine and Israel-Palestine, the children who have been killed by gun violence in our schools, and lest we forget, the children at our southern border: victims aplenty to make one wonder just how far we have travelled from that scene on Mt. Moriah, to the one on Mt. Tabor and, yes, finally, to the one on Mt. Calvary.

    Which is why we come together week after week in remembrance of Jesus to ensure that our spiritual sight is made pure (cf. Collect).  By offering, not a human being, not an animal, but bread and wine, which in turn become the substance of the One who offered himself: Who died or rather was raised up, and is at the right hand of God to intercede for us (cf. II).

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that our truest selves, beloved daughters and sons of God, maybe revealed more and more through our Lenten observances.

For enlightenment on our Lenten journey: that as we participate in sacrificial practices during this Lenten season, we may make more room in our life for God, the giver of all life.

For a spirit of holy detachment: that as we recognize more fully that our time, knowledge, possessions, and even life itself are gifts from God, we may place these wholeheartedly at the service of God and our neighbor.

For all who are awaiting transformation: that God’s love will free them and bring to wholeness those with addictions, fears, or who are held unjustly.

For all whose faith is weak: that, like Abraham, God will renew our spirits and guide us in relying upon God in all the areas circumstances that are unclear or in which we lack understanding of what to do.

For all the children of Abraham: that through our witness to the one True God, we may manifest God’s justice and virtue in our world.

For healing: that God will relieve the suffering of all who are ill, restore their strength as they recover, and guide all who are caring for them.

For renewal of our society: that God will heal those wounded by prejudice and injustice and show us ways to dismantle racist structures and practices.

For all who are suffering: that God will give courage and strength to all who are suffering, open job possibilities for the unemployed, and give peace to those who are grieving.

Ever-faithful God, you were well pleased with Abraham’s obedience  and you accepted the sacrifice of your Son, who gave himself up for the sake of us all. Train us by Christ’s teaching and school us in his obedience, that, as we walk his way of sacrifice, we may come to share in your glory. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon

Offertory Hymn


Jesus, take us to the mountain
         Where, with Peter, James and John,
             We are dazzled by Your glory,
         Light as blinding as the sun.
                 There prepare us for the night
                 By the vision of that sight.
2.  What do you want us to see there
         That Your close companions saw?
             Your divinity revealed there
         Fills us with the self-same awe.
                 Clothed in flesh like ours You go,
                 Matched to meet our deadliest foe.
3.  What do You want us to hear there
         That Your dear disciples heard?
             Once again the voice from heaven
         Says of the incarnate Word:
                 "Listen, listen ev'ryone;
                  This is My beloved Son!"
4.  Take us to that other mountain
         Where we see You glorified.  
             Where You shouted, "It is finished!"
         Where for all the world You died.
                 Hear the stunned centurion:
                 "Truly this was God's own Son!"
5.  We who have beheld Your glory,
         Risen and ascended Lord,
             Cannot help but tell the story,
         All that we have seen and heard,
                 Say with Peter, James, and John:
                 "You are God's beloved Son!"

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn 


Oh, wondrous type! Oh, vision fair
Of glory that the church may share,
Which Christ upon the mountain shows,
Where brighter than the sun he glows!
With Moses and Elijah nigh
The incarnate Lord holds converse high;
And from the cloud the Holy One
Bears record to the only Son.
With shining face and bright array
Christ deigns to manifest today
What glory shall be theirs above
Who joy in God with perfect love.
And faithful hearts are raised on high
By this great vision’s mystery,
For which in joyful strains we raise
The voice of prayer, the hymn of praise.
O Father, with the eternal Son
And Holy spirit ever one,
We pray you, bring us by your grace
To see your glory face to face.

Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.