Last Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, the Church invited us to look at Jesus in the desert where he was tempted three times by the devil, and where Jesus emerged victorious. It is a picture of the humanity of Christ.
This Sunday the Church presents to us a completely different picture of Jesus – one which shows His glory and splendor, and where God the Father announced Him as His dearly beloved Son, which thus proclaims His divinity.
The gospel tells us that Jesus took three of his apostles, Peter, James and John, to a high mountain, which is commonly believed to be Mt. Tabor. (I believe many of you have gone to this mountain on your pilgrimage in the Holy Land.)
Once on the top of the mountain, Jesus started to change, first his clothing, then He Himself. His face became radiant and his clothes became dazzling white. Then the prophet Elijah and the lawgiver Moses appeared and the disciples saw Jesus conversing with them. The apostles did not know what to say since they were taken by surprise. Peter could only say: “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.” Then a cloud came and they heard a voice saying: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
Suddenly, everything was over. Jesus was standing there just as they had seen him before. Though they did not fully understand it all, they were given an inkling of Who the Master really was, but Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone of the vision they were privileged to witness with their own eyes. It was because Jesus knew the events that would follow, His suffering, and death.
Later on these three apostles would receive a greater understanding of what they saw on the mountain as they witnessed the events of the first Holy Week.
As we go through Lent, we continue to meditate on the sufferings Christ endured for us when He climbed another mountain -- Mount Calvary, where He fulfilled the Father’s promise of salvation for His people. While we meditate on Christ’s passion and death, this meditation does not end with the cross; this is not a gloom and doom activity. For Jesus’ suffering and death was followed by the joy of His resurrection. His Transfiguration was a preview or anticipation of His resurrection. And the good news is that Christ has promised we will also rise.
And so the message of the Transfiguration is that we ourselves will also be transfigured. The Transfiguration of Jesus gives us an opportunity to reflect that our own suffering on this earth will be followed by eternal joy as we will see our the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit face to face when through our passage from this earth we will be born to eternal life.
But then we are commanded by the Father to listen to Jesus, His dearly beloved Son. In fact, if we actively follow him in our daily lives, we are being transformed gradually in Him, being gradually transfigured in Him. The Church emphasizes that we are being called into an ongoing transformation and conversion to and in Christ. God the Father at the mountain of transfiguration commands us – Listen to Jesus, who is the way the truth and the life.
At the last judgment, we will rise from the dead and will have glorified bodies, to share in the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for all eternity. St. Paul tells us: “Eye has not seen and ears heard what the Father has prepared for those who love him!” 1 Cor 2:9 And St. John the Evangelist tells us: Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3
This Lent, as we trace the steps of Jesus to the mountain of Calvary, we are asked to devote more time and effort to prayer, acts of sacrifice and acts of charity. We are asked to look into ourselves to find out how we have strayed away from Christ and why we should turn to Him again. Let us meditate on the Father’s love for us, who did not hesitate to send His only begotten son to take on our human flesh and to dwell among us, but to suffer and die on the that mountain for us. Let us realize that the Transfiguration of Jesus at Mount Tabor is the anticipation of His resurrection and rising into glory. It is a glimpse of the glory that we will be given as we listen to Him and choose Him in our daily lives.
May the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ make us respond to the invitations of grace in our daily lives not only this Lent but throughout the year. May we grow more fully into the Image and likeness of Jesus Christ our Savior as we go through our daily lives and look forward to entering into His eternal glory in the life to come.#