Photo by Unsplash.
Photo by Unsplash.

We are already beginning the second week of our journey through Lent. The wonderful readings this weekend invite us to focus on transformation and transfiguration. The covenant or relationship that God has with us can truly be a life-changer and giver for us…

In the First Reading (Genesis 15: 5-12, 17-18), Abraham has a transforming or transfiguring encounter with God. We often call Abraham “our father in faith” and so he was! Because he put his faith in the Lord, God makes a covenant with him and Abraham’s life is transformed forever: he becomes the father of a great nation. Our psalm (Psalm 27) invites us always to seek the face of God; that is, to enter into a relationship or covenant with Him. The psalm is full of what we call relational phrases: Wait for the Lord, be strong, seeking God, do not turn your servant away…In our Second Reading (Philippians 3: 17-4:1) we are reminded that God’s love transforms us totally, both in body and in spirit and, as a result, our true citizenship is in heaven.

In the Gospel for every second Sunday in Lent, we hear about the transfiguration of Jesus before his disciples Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor. His inner beauty and awesome power as Son of God and Son of Man shines out. Moses and Elijah also appear. Moses is seen as a witness to how Jesus completes the Law and Elijah is a witness to how Jesus fulfills the prophets. The disciples are both afraid and awe-struck at the sight. The Gospel tells us that Peter was so amazed that “he did not know what he was saying.”

A short time after this the disciples will see Jesus transformed again. Then they will see Jesus’ face and body disfigured through his suffering, as He carries His cross and is crucified. As Pope Saint Leo the Great put it so beautifully, Jesus gave his disciples this spoon of honey in his transfiguration on the mountain to prepare them for the bitterness of seeing Jesus in his suffering and death on the hill of Calvary. Then, in Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples will see another transfiguration as the risen Lord is transformed again in His glorified and risen body at Easter.

Transfiguration or transformation is then very much like a journey. Interestingly, St. Luke is the only Gospel writer who tells us what Jesus was talking about with Moses and Elijah: it was his exodus or journey. We can remember the exodus of the chosen ¬≠people out of slavery in Egypt, through the desert and so to freedom and the Promised Land. Jesus’ exodus or journey is to suffer, die and rise again so as to bring us out of the slavery of sin to a new and transformed life as adopted sons and daughters of God.

We are given this Gospel to help us see how God’s love and mercy can transfigure or transform us: Our inner beauty as sons and daughters of God can shine out! It is also a reminder that the Lord asks us to be His agents of that same transformation and transfiguration; to share the good news of what we have received. In other words, we are to be evangelizers and disciple-makers. This is our calling and our saint for today, St. Patrick, is a wonderful example of a person hearing and answering this call.

An image of how God’s love and mercy can transfigure us that comes to mind is that of the stained-glass windows in a church. There is a great beauty in each window. However, for us to see that beauty and color and to see who or what the window depicts, we need light to shine through the window. Otherwise, the window remains dark with just a few hints of what might be hidden there. This is how the light of God’s love and mercy can transform and transfigure us: it can enable and show forth the goodness that God has placed into our hearts. However, without that light, this remains shrouded in darkness and obscurity.

Notice too Saint Peter’s words: “Master it is good that we are here; let us make three tents…” He thought that it was wonderful to be present at Jesus’ transfiguration and perhaps wanted to stay on the mountain, making a shrine there. Instead, Jesus takes Peter and the other two disciples back down the mountain. They cannot stay there for Jesus must continue His mission and ministry (and so must the disciples…and so must we!).