Promises to Keep
2nd Sunday of Lent (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Whenever I read the story of the transfiguration of the Lord, I am reminded of a poem. Let me explain. When Peter saw Jesus in His glory and Moses and Elijah with Him, he was so overcome that he exclaimed, “Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Lk. 9:33). Jesus did not give in to the request, instead they came down from the mountain of transfiguration and He continued his journey to Jerusalem where He would face the Cross.

The poem is that of Robert Frost, and some lines still come to mind although it was forty years ago that we discussed it in poetry class,

The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.

Peter was so awestruck that he wanted to stay on top of the mountain by building three tents there. The gospel says, “He did not know what he was saying” (v.34). Had Jesus listened to his suggestion there would have been no Calvary and no Cross. There would instead be only three tents on top of the mountain. Peter’s request was a temptation. It would keep Jesus from proceeding with his mission by way of the Cross.

Peter wanted to enjoy the loveliness of the woods. Jesus had a mission to fulfill. He had promises to keep. He had to continue to Jerusalem where He would undergo the Passion, and eventually the sleep of death.

Don’t we experience the same tension between fulfilling our tasks in life and the desire to take the convenient path? When a teacher starts packing on a Sunday afternoon to go back to her barrio post, she wishes she could just stay at home. When a soldier is saying goodbye to his wife and child, it pains him to go. An overseas worker wishes he does not have to leave the country to find a job. But times are hard, he has to go.

In 1983, when Senator Benigno Aquino was preparing to leave the United States and go back to the Philippines which was still under the martial law regime of President Marcos, he was warned that he would be killed. He was a threat to the dictatorship. He made his decision and took the plane back to his country. He was shot dead on the tarmac of the airport. The airport is now named after him, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Action starter: What did you promise? Do it.

There are “moral oughts” in life. There are promises to keep. There is the call of duty to answer. There are obligations to fulfill and responsibilities to undertake. Life is not at all convenient. It is not convenient for mothers to wake up in the middle of the night to feed her baby. It is not convenient for doctors to attend to patients during emergencies. It is not convenient for community leaders to gather their people and motivate them to do a community project. It is not convenient for a student to study her lessons. It is not convenient for a farmer to plow the field and plant the seeds.

Of course life also has its rewards. The harvest comes. The project gets completed. The children graduate from school. The patient gets well. It is these times that we celebrate. We have reasons to rejoice. We have done our duty. We have kept our promise. We have answered the call.

All of these speak of the paschal mystery. The cross and the resurrection are intertwined. With suffering comes glory.