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A Note on Today’s Readings 

The Last Sunday after the Epiphany—Year A 

First Reading:  Exodus 24:12-18

Second Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21

Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

Welcome to our parish. On this final Sunday before Lent, we always have as our Gospel reading the account of Jesus’ transfiguration. This event is chosen primarily because it marks the turning point in the story of Jesus. It was on this occasion that Jesus clearly foretold his approaching death and resurrection. Thus we are pointed in our Lenten pilgrimage toward the cross and Easter.

The Old Testament reading records Moses’ meeting with God on Mt. Sinai in an event like the transfiguration. His forty days and nights with God on the mountain are a prefiguring of our time with God in Lent.

The second reading records the memory of the transfiguration event as a sign that the writer’s message is truth, being an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry. We are also witnesses as God transforms us into the likeness of Christ.

Today the Church uses the Easter word “Alleluia” for the last time until the resurrection is proclaimed at the Great Vigil of Easter. In many churches, the ancient “farewell to Alleluia” hymn (Alleluia, song of gladness, Hymn 122 or 123, The Hymnal 1982) is sung at the conclusion of the service today. “Alleluia” is omitted from the liturgy throughout Lent in order that its restoration at Easter will underscore our experience of renewal on that day.

From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.