Second Sunday of Lent

Readings: First Reading: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18 • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 27:1, 7-9, 13-14 • Second Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1 or Philippians 3:20--4:1 • Gospel: Luke 9:28-36
Pastoral | 2019 Mar 13

The Gospel reading concerning the Transfiguration of the Lord is always proclaimed on this 2nd Sunday of Lent. Through the transfiguration, Jesus discloses who he really is, certifying that the cross will not write the final word to the story of his life. The transfiguration relates the change that took place in the face of Jesus, his appearance and clothing while he was on the mountain. Jesus, who is 100% God and 100% man, was transfigured from his human form into his divine form.The Transfiguration of Jesus came at the perfect moment for the apostles. One week before the event, he had made the third prediction of his passion. He told them that he would go up to Jerusalem, where he would be mocked, scourged and put to death, but that he would rise on the third day. The prediction of his death was such a shock and disappointment to the apostles that they scarcely even heard the words about resurrection. It was not only a tragedy, it was a tremendous fiasco for them; they were downcast and dejected. Jesus subsquently selected a few apostles to go up to the mountain with him, as a way of offering them a moment of encouragement, the greatest they had experienced so far in their ministry with him. Jesus understood the instinctive need human beings have to be encouraged, in order to live up fully to their capabilites.

The evangelist describes the transfiguration of Jesus as caused not by a light projected from an external source, but by a radiation coming from a reality existing within: His face changed in appearance... Jesus had the evident intention of establishlng in the apostles’ minds a connection between suffering and death on the one hand, and the resurrection and glory on the other. Jesus wished to give at least to three apostles -Peter, James and John- a hint of what his future glory through his death would be like. The transfiguration was meant to bolster their faith and hope. The death of Jesus, accepted in loving obedience to his Father, would mean for him life and glory. The transfiguration was a sneak preview of the resurrection, and the closest glimpse of heaven that the three apostles had ever seen.

The transfiguration did not have as much effect on Jesus as it did on the disciples; the impact on the disciples was impressive. Seeing Jesus in glory had a lasting effect on Peter, James and John. Their witnessing of the transfiguration of Jesus changed them. It nourished and strengthened them in answering their call to discipleship. The words This is My beloved Son had been proclaimed at Jesus’ baptism, and now again these words were repeated with the Father’s additional advice, hear Him.

Any experience of God is a transfiguring or transforming experience. That experience in our lives has the capacity to change us, to sustain and reaffirm us in our resolve to be disciples of Jesus. Every time we gather to celebrate any sacrament, God comes into our lives to transform us. Especially the Eucharist is a transforming sacrament. God nourishes us with his Word, but in addition challenges us to reassess the sincerity of our commitment as his disciples. Then, after nourishing us with his Word, God feeds us with the Body and Blood of his Son.

Prayer, too, has the capacity of transforming us. Be it in personal or community payer, God enters our lives and we are transfigured. We are changed into better disciples of Jesus. Let me ask a couple of questions: Do the experience of God that we get from the sacraments, from the Scriptures, and from personal or community prayer really changes anything? Or to be more precise, do these experiences have any effect on the way we live, the values we hold, the decisions we take? Lent ought to be our transfiguration time, to be achieved through reconciliation, the Eucharist, good works and prayers.

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Augustinian Recollects Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine.

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