Gen 12:1-4; 2Thi 1:8-10; Mt 17: 1-9
Lent is a time when we call on the Lord to recall the mercy and tender heart he has always had for his chosen people. We are reminded about Lent as a time when we wage a battle with the enemies of God, and consequently our enemies. The language is that of triumph, victory. With the help of a merciful God, we overcome the enemies of love. It is he who frees us from our foes, from the snares of those who hate us, of the fowler who seeks to destroy us. When we call on the Lord in our anguish, in our distress, it is He who hears and comes to our aid.
On this day, the Church recalls in its praise of God, a Father who calls his children to listen to his Beloved Son. God, the Father is then implored to nourish our faith with His Word and to purify the eyes of our spirit or our hearts so that we may have a taste of the vision of His glory. Once again, the Church sets us, worshippers on a pilgrimage of faith. The goals and objectives of our Christian striving, of our Lenten observances, are clarified. Our eyes, or rather the eyes of our minds are on the beatific vision. We are embarking on a journey that would need two things, obedient listening and purity within.
The second Sunday of the Lent focuses on the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus. The manifestation of Jesus' glory takes place on a high mountain, for a mountain is an ideal location for an encounter with the Divine. Our natural inclination is to stay where we are, to make a tent and settle comfortably. But God is continually urging us on to a land he will show us. We follow our transfigured Lord in faith, putting our trust in him and bearing his hardships for the sake of the good news he has brought us.
In humble obedience, Abraham leaves his country as he is ordered by the Lord, God. Only faith could have brought him to such a decision that transforms his life. So that God may then be his true guide, Abraham had to allow himself to be guided by the Divine Word, a word that is always a call to conversion. A difficult decision that had to make him part with his past and detach himself from his roots a radical conversion. For Abraham, this was the fruit of a covenant. For us, it provides a model for any genuine conversion experience.
One of the great values of this text about Abraham at this time of the year is the fact that it touches on renunciation. It makes us abandon all earthly riches and goods. Through the second, we repudiate our old ways of life, including the vices and passions of soul and body. By the third, we detach our spirit from present and visible realities to contemplate nothing more than the future realities and to desire only things invisible. Lent indeed, is that time of self-denial, of detachment, of renunciation, of repudiation. Abraham is hailed for such renunciation and desire for future realities.
The second reading speaks about Timothy, who is Paul's spiritual child. He is the kind of person who despite his youth and his frequent ailments is willing to leave his home to accompany on his dangerous journey and to remain to the very end Christ's faithful servant. In this passage, Paul invites Timothy not to be afraid of the Lord or of the suffering he has undergone for the sake of the Gospel. St. Paul's letter to Timothy seems to suggest some practical ways for us to live and respond to the call being made by today's liturgy. Our lives must become lives that shamelessly testify to our Lord.
Our mission as followers of Christ during this lent, and indeed, all the days of our lives are to share in suffering for the Gospel in the power of God. This desire to take part in suffering for the Good News is a Divine gift, which will eventually liberate and sanctify us. It is for this reason that the Liturgy reminds us that we have no power of our own to help ourselves.
Let us consider a little carefully what Christ's transfiguration entailed. Scriptures use transfiguration only about Christ and the change brought about in the Christian personality through his relationship with the same Christ. The voice from heaven commands his followers to listen to this new teaching and keep it. The disciples are made to see the glory of God. They fall prostrate at the sound of the voice of the Father. The transfiguration fulfills the promise made by Jesus that the Son of Man will come in 'his glory'. Matthew concludes this section with an elaborate statement that stresses the silence of the witnesses and questions regarding the return of Elijah. They kept it a messianic secret, telling no one in those days until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
The Lord grants us rejoicing moments as we struggle with our lives. The chosen disciples of Jesus saw the Lord Jesus in glory on the mount of the Transfiguration. We too have the opportunity to meet the glorious both in this world and the next. As disciples of Jesus, we should meet the glorious Lord in the Eucharist, in the Word of God and our brothers and sisters. This is the step towards our encounter with the Lord as we await our entry to eternal life.
Even if we have to kept soul and body, the Lord Himself is the only one who can guarantee our defense against all adversities and evil thoughts. As we celebrate Lent, let us allow the Lord to work this transformation, this conversion, this transfiguration, so that we too may be united to Christ and come one day to share in the glory of the life of the world to come.
It was this self-denial and renunciation that Jesus had just finished talking about, which led to the transfiguration event. At the transfiguration, Jesus was out to show his disciples the content of the future realities "the glory of the heavens". Yet in doing so, he traces the path to this glory. He discusses this with Moses and Elijah or rather; He enters into a dialogue of understanding and completion with the Law and the Prophets. The events in these historical realities have been a preparation for Christ's coming. Moses and Elijah did not remain, but Jesus stayed behind. The Law and the Prophets will now be understood only in and through Him, for he is now the incarnation of the Divine Word. We must listen to Him. This passage must be reflected on over and over again by many in the face of an increasing thrust plaguing the Christian world today in its effort to evangelize. We are followers of Christ. The Christo-centric nature of our mission and lives must beyond every reasonable doubt never cause the yet incomplete nature of divine revelation in the Law and Prophets to have precedence and dominion over the complete revelation of the Divine in Christ. There should be no contradiction, but the incomplete nature of the Law and the Prophets must always be made evident when faced with the complete Christological presentation of the nature and purpose of the divine plan. Even if we mean to appeal to Moses and Elijah, to the Old Testament practices, we must be ready to submit these to the way Christ raises them to a newer and higher standard especially as he explicates in the Sermon on the Mount. To truly be Christo-centric we too need to be 'transfigured'. We need to change.