On the Gospel of Matthew 17:1-9
Second Sunday of Lent
Shining out like the parabled city upon the hilltop, today’s Gospel brings us a brilliant glimpse of heavenly glory in this Lenten season. St Thomas Aquinas himself saw the event as being one of the greatest miracles involving our Saviour- for being both fully human and divine this was the only moment He displayed his bodily glory, giving His chosen disciples a sighting of the brightness and splendour that their bodies would have when glorified in heaven. The true beauty of our Faith is that Jesus shares in our human nature so that we too might share in his divine nature by Grace. The transfiguration ultimately reveals the Glory we also are called to!
The great Irish Benedictine, Blessed Columba Marmion, wonderfully described how we become members of Christ’s body, children of God by real adoption. He saw the Transfiguration as showing how it is in our holiness that we resemble Christ, for there we have the divine life flowing through us. At Baptism, Holiness dawned on us and transformed us into Christs image (Rom 8:29) and through our daily life’s fidelity to Him we grow towards eternal life, becoming perfect sons of God. The brilliant thing for us is that Christ left us a ‘Divine Adoption Agency’ in the form of His Church!
For the disciples descending again into the world we know of, ‘of hustle and bustle’ it was these climatic moments of personal encounter with God that would sustain their faith to endure the uncertainties and hardships ahead. Called as they were, to live out Christ’s teachings and message of hope. Its the very same for us. St. Leo the Great recognised these three apostles as representing the whole church, that divine call “Listen to Him” is addressed directly to us. Jesus is the light that shines, enlightening all our paths, he speaks to us in the Bible and in our daily life; the truth being that the graces we receive in His church especially in the sacraments are the true transfiguring moments of our lives. These sacred moments are our wellsprings providing for us the strength to live the life of faith that is our only chance of true happiness; the path to Holiness. The Eucharist is the powerhouse at the centre of this divine adoption agency: our pledge of heaven and union with Christ. This Lent we can especially further our friendship and closeness with God in prayer. To listen well we need to go up the mountain often ourselves by being quiet inside ourselves and praying. There we will come to know the peace and closeness of God that enables us to endure the challenges of following Christ. As Christ pointed out to Peter, we are not yet able to erect a tent where the trials of this life cannot reach us, we have, however, the sure knoweldge that God loves us and is calling us to enter into a deeper relationship with His well beloved Son. He is our path to heavenly Glory!
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
– Matthew 17:1-9