Psalms in the Lectionary
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2nd Sunday in Lent Cycle A 2017

Psalms in the Lectionary
Second Sunday of Lent  Cycle A   3/11/2017
Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20. 22; 2 Timothy 1:8b-10; 
Matthew 17:1-9
 
Psalm 33 is part of an anthology of praise psalms.  The first few verses call on all of God’s people to raise their voices with lyre and harp and strings and shouts of joy.  We start the psalm today, however, with verse 4, which describes the character of the God of Creation.  Upright is the WORD of God, and all his works are trustworthy.  With our Christological lenses, we see Christ in our Creator God as WORD, and his kindness in verse 5 is from that beautiful Hebrew word, hesed, which means loving kindness and faithfulness: “He loves justice and right; of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full”.  If we were to read the entire psalm, we would hear that the Lord looks down from heaven, watches and sees all of humankind and observes all our deeds.  Instead we skip ahead to the verses 18-22 in which we hear that the eyes of the Lord are upon each of us who fear him and hope for his kindness (hesed).  It is a beautiful psalm of faithfulness of relationship.  Our readings this weekend, the Second Sunday of Lent, bring us back to Genesis to hear how our story of salvation history began with God calling Abram to leave his father’s house and travel to the Promised Land.  Matthew’s Gospel recounts the story of the transfiguration when the apostles see Jesus transfigured before them alongside Moses and Elijah.  What is striking about the gospel reading is that when the disciples saw this, they were so afraid, they prostrated themselves on the ground.  Yet, when Jesus touched him, they raised their eyes and saw only Jesus.  What a beautiful singular vision!  Oh, that we could look up and see only Jesus.  Paul’s letter to Timothy encourages us to bear any hardships for the Gospel’s sake, and assures us that God will give us all the strength we need for that.  We are presented with models of faithfulness this weekend: that of Abram and then Moses and Elijah, the apostles, and all those who fear the Lord, but most of all, we are presented with a faithful God of loving kindness.  Praise God!
 
The refrain is taken from verse twenty-two of the psalm: 
 “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.”
 
verses 4-5:
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
 
verses 18-19:
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
to deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
 
verses 20 & 22:
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
 
 
Today’s first reading from Genesis (12:1-4a) recounts the call of Abram to venture forth from his father’s land to the land that god promises him, a land flowing with milk and honey.
 
text:
The LORD said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.  “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.  All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.”  Abram went as the LORD directed him.
 
The Gospel from Matthew (17:1-9) is the story of the Transfiguration, with the apostles focusing on Jesus alone when they raise their eyes. 
 
text
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.  Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here.  If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  When the apostles heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.  But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”  And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
 
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
 
The second reading from the Second letter to Timothy (1:8b-10) is a letter of encouragement to hold fast to the gospel, for God has saved us by his own design.
 
text
Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.  He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
 
Psalm 33 is a beautiful psalm of praise that blends all the readings together this weekend, reminding us how grateful we need to be for the gift of salvation history and for the Son of Man to have come into our midst and conquered all!