THE POWER OF LOCATION: HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY OF LENT (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

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During the earlier days of mobile telephones in Nigeria, there were few network masts and this made network connectivity very hard for users. In those days, the few people that owned mobile phones had to make frantic efforts, like climbing trees, hills and roof tops in order to gain access to network to make or receive calls. Simply put, you must be in the right network location for effective use of the telephone. The mystery surrounding the missing Malaysian Airline MH370 is all about the location which at the time of this reflection is still unknown.

Location matters so much in life. Where you are located determines a lot about what you do, how you do it and what happens to you. Location is a place of settlement, residence or activity. Location is where something takes place and at every point in time we are in a given location and each location can either be helpful or unhelpful, .

From the beginning of the world we get the idea of location as God, through His spoken words, directed all the creatures to various locations. After the creation of Adam, God located him (or placed him) in the Garden of Eden (Gen.2:15). From the first reading today (Gen. 12:1-4), we read that God commanded Abram to leave his country, family and father’s house to a place God desired as his new location. In this new location Abram will be blessed by God, in this new location God will fight those who will fight against him and bless those who will bless him. The question that may likely well up in the mind of any attending person is: “why is it necessary for Abram to leave his country, family and father’s house; can’t he be blessed in his homeland?”

The above question still brings us to the fact of location. For every blessing from God there is a divinely enabled location and to miss the location is to miss the blessing. Joseph’s breakthrough was located in Egypt whereby his dreams and the hatred from his brothers were the necessary travelling documents he needed (Genesis 37ff). The people of Israel had to relocate from Egypt to the Promised Land in order to have the fullness of God’s protective love and expansion (Exo. 13:17ff). The call of Samuel could only take place in the temple (1 Sam.3ff). Esther, the Jewess, could only become a queen in Persia (as God planned) while in exile taking the place of queen Vashti who disobeyed the order of King Xerxes (Esther 2:1-18). Zacchaeus could only be located because he changed his location from the crowd to the sycamore tree (Luke 19:4).

To be located, there is need for a change! This involves leaving the former location to a new location. In the First Reading God told Abram TO LEAVE his country, family and father’s house in order words he was asked to change location. This means that there is something in the old location that will not be helpful. He was actually asked to break with the family idols and traditions. He was asked to leave the familiar landscape, he was asked to break away from the old generational norm in order to begin a new generational covenant with God (Genesis 15). Notably this new covenant could not have taken place in the old location. In life most people become successful outside their homelands; on a new location. There is power in location people in business, politics, sports, advertising, media and even criminals will tell you the same.

The gospel reading today (Matt.17:1-9) tells us about the TRANSFIGURATION of our Lord Jesus Christ at Mount Tabor before three of his apostles who constitute the inner caucus (Peter, James and John). The transfiguration took place on a high mountain, to this effect our Lord and the witnesses of the transfiguration had to climb the mountain in question. The climbing of the mountain is a pointer to a change of location. They left the ungodly location at the foot of the mountain and moved up to the location of divine glory at the top of the mountain. They left the distortions of evil at the foot of the mountain and moved up to the transfiguration scene on the high mountain. In all, there was a change of location from a lower range of nothingness to a higher range of values. Very much like the movement of Abram from where he was born to where God wanted him to be; the location of blessings.

Generally, the concept of mountain in the bible is very significant as a special location for most divine activities:

  • After the flood, Noah’s ark rested on Mount Ararat (Gen. 8:4),
  • Abraham made a sacrifice to God (instead of Isaac) on a mountain in the land of Moriah (Gen.22:2)
  • Moses received the Ten Commandment on Mount Sinai (Exo.24:12).
  • The site of Solomon’s temple was Mount Moriah as directed by David (2 Chron.3:1).
  • Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion (Psalm125:1).
  • One of the temptations of Jesus Christ was on a mountain (Mt 4:8-9; Lk 4:5-7).
  • Most of the important teachings of our Lord was on the mountain. (Matt.5:1-2; 24:3; Mk 13:3-4)
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on a Mountain (Luke 23:33) and ascended from Mount Olives (Acts.1:9-12).
  • Today we are presented with the transfiguration taking place on a Mountain.

The Lenten period is very much like climbing a mountain; it is tasking but gainful after all. To be able to climb a mountain successfully one has to go light. That means that there is need to drop all kinds of loads especially the load of sin because only those with clean hands and pure hearts can climb the Mountain of the Lord (Psalm 24:3-6). Furthermore we don’t need to climb with anything because all we need are adequately provided there at the top of the mountain. (Isaiah 25:6-9).

Describing the transfiguration, the gospels relate to us that our Lord’s face changed and his clothes became dazzlingly white. Thereafter there was the celestial presence of Moses and Elijah and the gracious voice of God the Father confirming Jesus as the most beloved in whom He is well pleased. There are indeed many elements in this periscope that would serve the interest of biblical exegetes; however we are so much concerned here with the connection the transfiguration has with the change of location especially during this season of lent.

There is no doubt that without the change of location there couldn’t have been any transfiguration. The Lenten season is ripe enough for this change of location. We are all called from the beginning of the season by the prophet Joel (2:12-16) to activate a change of location from the region of sin to nearness to repentance. In the prophecy of Isaiah we are also told to change our location by returning to God so that he can return to us. (Zech.1:3; Mal.3:7).

This change of location is very important for us. Except we change our location we may be standing still in life. There is no way we can be doing the same thing the same way over and over again and expect a different result; Albert Einstein calls this insanity! We need to ask ourselves if we are making any serious effort this season of Lent to change our location from sin to repentance, from disobedience to obedience, from darkness to light, from destruction to reconstruction.

It will be at the point of changing our location that we will encounter God in a new and enriching way; we shall like Peter, James and John see Him as he is (1 John 3:2-3). Your blessings can only come in the right location. Locate God and be in His location and by His grace you will be located. May our lives be touched and transfigured as we seek God as the needed location this season. Remain blessed, located and transfigured this season and always.

Fr. Bonnie.

(fatherbonny@hotmail.com)

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