In the Sunday readings at Mass for the Second Sunday of Lent this year the connection between the text from the Old Testament and the Gospel may not be all that apparent.

First, God asks Abram, whom He renames Abraham, to cut in half a heifer, a female goat and a ram, and also asks for a turtledove and a pigeon. He is to lay these carcasses on some rocks. Abram does so, staying with them all day, eating nothing as he drives the vultures away.

After dark, Abram falls into a trance. He sees a smoking fire pot and a torch passing through the carcasses. God announces that He has now formed a covenant with Abram. This is an ancient rite: two parties walked between the carcasses to seal a covenant (Jeremiah 34:18). Since the covenant is God’s initiative, He alone passes between the bodies of the beasts.

The responsorial psalm alludes to God’s glory: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear?” And the Gospel acclamation taken from St. Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration proclaims, “From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard: This is my beloved son, hear him!”

In St. Luke’s Gospel account, Jesus allows a glimpse of his glory as God to be seen by Peter, James and John, his three closest friends among the 12 apostles: “While he was praying his face changed in appearance and His clothing became dazzling white.” Moses, representing the Law, and Elijah, representing the prophets, appear and discuss the “exodus” from sin Jesus will secure for his followers by his sacrificial death as the true passover Lamb of God.

The divine Shekinah, a shining cloud of glory that had hovered over the Tabernacle, is seen by the three apostles and they hear a voice say, “This is my chosen son; listen to him.”

The shining cloud passes and Jesus is his old, familiar self.

To reflect this Sunday’s scriptural readings, how about making Slumgullion (which is another name for plain old stew)? Just as God had Abram sacrifice several different animals to bind the covenant, Slumgullion can comprise a lot of different left-over meats: roast beef, pot roast, chuck steak, pork roast, lamb, chicken, turkey, even ham, ground beef or sausage. It’s a clean-out-the-refrigerator dish.

So here’s a tasty Slumgullion — and, in honor of “the shining cloud,” we’re going to add dumplings!

NOTE: During the week it would not be amiss to follow the old rule of partial fasting: eating two “collations” — small meals — during the day that don’t equal what’s eaten during one main meal during the 40 days of Lent, while, of course, abstaining from meat on all the Fridays of Lent, eating simpler, even austere meals.

Ingredients for Slumgullion

2 cups of cooked beef (cubed)

2 (10.5 oz.) cans of beef broth

2 cups of red wine

1-1/2 cups of celery (chopped)

6 tbsp. of flour (sifted) 

1-1/2 cups of onion (chopped)

2 cups of tomato juice                  

3 persimmons or carrots (sliced)

2 tbsp. of butter (melted)           

2 or 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 tsp. of black pepper   

1/4 tsp. of salt

Cooking Instructions

Place the cubed beef in a bowl, pour the wine over it. Allow it to marinate 20 minutes or more. Whisk the six tablespoons of flour into the beef broth until it is incorporated, about a minute. In a large pot, sauté onion, garlic, persimmons and celery in the melted butter until onions become translucent, about five to six minutes. Stir in the broth, tomato juice, wine and beef. Simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients for Dumplings

1 cup of flour                                    

2 tbsp. of butter (softened)

2 tsp. of baking powder               

2 eggs

1/2 cupof milk                                 

1/2 tsp. of salt

Cooking Instructions

In a bowl, beat the eggs about a half minute. Add milk and stir. In another bowl combine the flour, salt and butter together, then add to the liquid and beat until smooth. Drop mixture into the bubbling Slumgullion by large tablespoonsful. Cover, simmer for 10 minutes and enjoy!