On the second Sunday of Lent, the Church gives us the scene of Jesus, up on the mountain, being transfigured before Peter, James and John. The Church wants to lift our eyes to the beauty of our calling in Christ. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus' Transfiguration lifts our eyes above our present period of purification to allow Jesus to have a new freedom in our hearts. This prepares us for the glory as pre-figured in the Transfiguration.
The first reading sets the tone. As Abraham was called to leave his homeland for a land God will give to him and his descendants, so, too, we are to leave the home of our present attachments for a life of glory to come. God promised Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you."
In the second reading Paul exhorts us: "Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God." How beautiful is this passage. Only godly power enables us to embrace the Gospel, which is presently transforming us, preparing us for our life of glory.
St. Paul continues, "He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to His own design and grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus. ..." If He called us to a life of union with Him, He also gives us the grace to embrace the process of transformation, to get to that union.
This Gospel reading comes at the beginning of Lent in order to raise our eyes to the glory that beckons us so we might move forward with hope and confidence in spite of our shortcomings.
That is precisely the reason that Jesus took three of His closest companions, Peter, James and John, up a high mountain to be transfigured before them. His passion was coming closer with each passing day. He wanted to give the three a glimpse of what would follow His passion and death, something that would strengthen them during the scandal of the crucifixion.
Here the glory of the Most Holy Trinity shines through the garments of Jesus, and the apostles experience the heavenly Father's delight as He speaks to them, and to us: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him."
Later, Peter teaches: "We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses to His majesty ... for we were with Him on the holy mountain."
The Transfiguration experience is intended not only for Peter, James and John, but also for the universal Church. In his book "The Mystery of the Transfiguration," preacher to the papal household Father Raniero Cantalamessa wrote: Jesus "prefigures and anticipates in the Transfiguration the glorification that will occur in His resurrection... On the Feast of the Transfiguration, the Church celebrates not only Christ's transfiguration but her own as well."
In other words, through contemplating Christ's transfiguration, we already enter into our own future life of glory. Just as in consuming the Most Holy Eucharist we become what we eat, similarly, we become what we contemplate. Christ was transfigured to give us a glimpse of our future glory. St. Leo the Great wrote that the Transfiguration occurred "so that it (the Church) might know with what sort of exchange the whole body of Christ was to be given, and that the members might promise to themselves a sharing in the honor of the one who had shone as their Head."
When we contemplate the mystery of the Transfiguration, we cultivate within us the promise of the glory that is on its way. This is a powerful incentive to embrace the Lenten call to penance and repentance. The Book of Hebrews tells us: "For the sake of the joy that lay before Him He endured the cross, despising its shame and has taken His seat at the right of the throne of God."
St. Paul writes: "Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect."(Romans 12:2)
To lift your eyes above your own shortcomings and those of others, spend some time visualizing the life of glory to which your heavenly Father calls you. In this life of glory, we see the brilliance of the Father's glory and that of His Son radiating throughout heaven. Myriads of angles and saints are filled with glory praising the Most Holy Trinity, the source of their joy. Not only will this radiant joy and praise never end, it constantly increases in intensity. This life of glory is far more real and more powerful than our present life of struggle.
To help you in your contemplation, go to Chapters 4 and 5 of the Book of Revelation. There is described the future life of glory. The more you enter into this glory, the more this glory enters into you, giving you energy and hope, and a generosity to undergo the temporary sufferings of purification.
The more we enter into this type of contemplation, the more generous we become in entering into the purification experiences that bring us closer and closer to God, even in the midst of sin all around us. In fact, our own sinfulness loses its grip over our hearts because that for which we long consumes us. RELATED ARTICLE(S):I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | A thirst for God is His gift to us