Second Sunday of Lent
March 12, 2017
This past week, I was watching an “online” video about the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. At one point, the lecturer used a word that I had actually filed with other infrequently used expressions in my theological vocabulary. The word “typology” is almost self-defining. It is “the study of types.” It is a tool used in many of the sciences. For example, archaeologists will group artifacts according to certain characteristics. Anthropologists separate humankind into cultures, usually identified by race. In linguistics, languages are categorized by structural features.
However, for academics, especially Scripture scholars, the word “typology” usually brings to mind the fact that there are persons and things used by God in the Old Testament that foreshadow a person, event, or thing in the New Testament. In other words, the Old Testament frequently points forward to the New. For this reason, it is important that we read the Old in light of the New and the New in light of the Old.
The perfect example of “typology” is to be found in the Readings for this Second Sunday in Lent. The Liturgy of the Word opens with Genesis 12:1-4. God directs Abram to leave all that is familiar…home, family, land, work…and having completely separated himself from all distractions, to look into himself to enjoy an encounter with God. It took courage for Abram to follow through, but his obedience was greatly rewarded. This episode in Salvation history foreshadows Jesus separating Peter, James, and John from the other Apostles and disciples, leading them up a high mountain. And, having risen, about the demands and distractions of day-to-day living, Jesus looked inward. The Lord called forth His Divine Nature that was concealed by His human nature. Even his clothing responded to this cosmic event, becoming “white as light.”
When we read “The Old” in light of “The New,” we are able to see that the directive that the Father issued to Abram points forward in time to Jesus’s invitation to the privileged three. Placing these passages side by side helps us better understand both. By categorizing what is often referred to as “The Call of Abraham” with “The Transfiguration of the Lord,” we are better able to understand the purpose of both. Simply put, when we rise above the demands and temptations of this world and enter into prayer and reflection, we can call forth from within us some special message that God has placed there. And for our efforts, we will be changed and much blessed.
The life-changing experience of Abram and the Transfiguration of Jesus both point forward to today…to us…to this Lenten Season. These 40 days are a time when we are called, like Abram, to leave all distractions behind and to indulge ourselves with at least a little solitude, so that we can look inward and discover the wonderful things God has placed there. Lent can be a hike up a high mountain…making the journey with other followers of the Lord. If we take the Gospel with us and simply sit and listen, we will hear wonderful things, things that give us the strength and courage to walk back down to our daily lives…changed…for the better! It all comes down to what type of person do you want to be?