|3/9/2017 9:00:00 AM|
WORD OF FAITH
Living a transfigured life
BY SISTER ANNA MARIE MCGUAN, RSMFROM A READING FOR MARCH 12, SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
'Join with me in suffering for the Gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace...' -- 2 Tm 1:9
In Sunday's Gospel (Mt 17:1-9), Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a high mountain and is transfigured before them. As they gaze in wonder into His brilliant light, Moses and Elijah appear and speak with Jesus.
Peter offers to build three tabernacles, but, out of a mysterious cloud, the voice of the Father is heard, saying: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him."
The disciples cower in terror. Suddenly, Jesus appears alone, normal as before. He touches them and tells them not to be afraid and not to tell anyone about what they have seen and heard until after the resurrection.
This is a deeply theological passage and difficult to understand, yet its placement here at the second Sunday of Lent is not accidental. We are in remote preparation for the Passion of Christ.
Like the disciples before us, we need to be strengthened to persevere through Lent and Holy Week to greet our risen Lord on Easter Sunday.
The transfiguration, as this episode is called, is Jesus' way of showing the disciples who He truly is. During the Passion, when Jesus' human flesh will be marred beyond recognition and His enemies will gloat over Him, the glory of the transfiguration will be hidden. Jesus' divinity will no longer appear.
On the mountaintop
Here on the mountain, however, He gives the disciples a glimpse of His glory and access to the mystery of the Trinity, albeit in a limited way. The glory they witness in the transfiguration will be brought to its fullness in the resurrection. In it, we begin the walk toward Calvary.
In the routine of daily life and the discipline of Lent, the transfiguration is an upward call for us. It focuses our attention on Jesus, who brings meaning and purpose to our days. It allows us to see the glory hidden within the mundane, to recognize that the glory of Christ is hidden beneath and behind all that we experience.
To see this, of course, requires faith. The faith of Abraham, as demonstrated in our first reading (Gn 12:1-4a), is a model for us. Abraham was called out of Haran, his home, to journey to a land God would show him. He was called forth like the disciples were taken up the mountain by Jesus.
Leap of faith
What was required of Abraham -- and is required of us -- is trust to take that step toward our new home with God. If we do, the transfiguration awaits. We begin to see Jesus as He truly is: Lord of all and the Son of the Blessed One.
We also begin to live a transfigured life. Living a transfigured life through faith can necessitate a choice between our love for God and our love for ourselves. In other words, we may have to choose to renounce certain habits, certain behaviors that have become second nature to us, but keep us from loving God as we are meant to.
Vicious habits make us less than human; virtuous habits make us like God. The option for the transfigured life is made one choice at a time.
To choose life in this way requires perseverance and courage. That is why St. Paul urges St. Timothy (2 Tm 1:8b-10) not to be ashamed of the Gospel, nor of the transformation the Gospel demands.
The goal, which we know by faith, is far greater than anything we can hope for or imagine: "life and immortality in Christ Jesus." It belongs, however, only to the one who believes and walks in faith up the mountain.
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