It’s the 2nd Sunday of Lent, and the Gospel reading is about the Transfiguration of Jesus. This year it comes from the Gospel according to Luke. Come on, let’s see, what freshness does Luke bring us?
Genesis 15: 5-18
Psalm 27: 1, 7-9, 13-14
Philippians 3: 17-4 1
Luke 9: 28-36
Where are we?
Last Sunday, we had Jesus in the desert where he was tempted by Satan. A desert can mean a lot of things: an area of quietness, a wide and open as a place truthfulness; but it can be also an area of poverty. Although there are oases, places of water and fertile enough to grow food, nevertheless, a desert is far from being a place of abundance. So, it connects us with our own limitedness and dependence. But this Sunday is different, in fact, a contrast.
It’s glorious. With the transfiguration, on the mountain, Jesus shines in his splendour as Son of God. Indeed, this is our Lenten journey, but also, our daily life, marked by ups and downs. How does this experience at the mountain help us to make a step forward?
Transfiguration in the context
The transfiguration takes place, firstly, after the revelation of Jesus as Messiah, especially the suffering Messiah. Then, he takes with him Peter, John and James up the mountain where he’s transfigured. It’s just awesome! We can feel it from Peter’s emotional suggestion -he wants to settle and prolong the experience. But that’s meant to be only an appetiser -the fulness of it comes after the passion, death and resurrection. If they had gone up feeling low, no doubt, the disciples descend the mountain renewed and refuelled. How can I have the grace of such experience?
Transfiguration as disclosure
In the transfiguration our attention is drawn to the description of what happens, the face of Jesus that changes and his clothes dazzlingly bright. Here’s the question that comes to mind: What newness does this experience bring to Jesus? I shout, nothing! Nothing really. Yet, it’s not to say it’s an un important. Indeed, it is! It’s not the transfiguration confers him something he didn’t have before; rather he reflects who he already is -son of God. It’s a revelation for disciples; it’s like a flip on the curtain that gives them a glimpse of another face of the man, apparently ordinary, that have been following.
It’s not just a show to admire; it’s a promise. That’s the destination where he’s leading whoever is following him. And that’s the meaning of our Lenten pilgrimage; we prepare ourselves to share in the new life of Easter. So, this revelation is an encouragement, as well as an assurance: you are on the right path, keeping walking!
As disclosure, it means the disciples come to perceive something that has always been there but unseen. It makes me think of similar awesome experiences that pass unnoticed in my daily life. Perhaps, I should be a little more attentive this Lent, hence the invitation:
Watch and pray
Yes, stay awake! Obviously, you don’t want to be like Peter, James and John; they narrowly missed it all. While this great event is happening, the disciples are overcome by sleep. It’s only when they are fully awake that they have a taste of it, but they missed a part. I know, you just can’t afford missing a scene. Then, how do you go about it? That’s where Luke comes in.
We have the account of the transfiguration also in the Gospels of Mathew and Mark, but there’s a little detail that we find only in Luke. These other Gospels talk of Jesus going up the mountain with the three disciples to be alone; in Luke, they go to pray. And it’s during prayer, that privileged moment of communion of Jesus and his father, that the transfiguration happens. And the place itself is quite revealing.
The mountain, an elevated area, symbolises a point where heaven and earth are close; it’s a point of rendezvous -a meeting point. In fact, how many times does Jesus withdraw from the busy day and crowds to spray on the mountain?
Then, it means, if we don’t want to miss a scene, not only should we keep watch, but we should keep the appointment; let’s be at the meeting place on time. The question is, this Lent, can I find this symbolic place where heaven and earth meet? Certainly, but requires organisation: setting time and space apart in my busy day. When the appointment is respected, no matter how short, I return to my usual activity pacified and invigorated -thanks to what happens up my symbolic mountain.
But there’s need determination
Of course, I want to pray. Of course, want to be there for the appointment -but I should first be ready to face my “slumber”. What are the things that are preventing from watching the full scene of the revealed glory?
Lent is time to keep watch and stay ready to receive what God is offering. If we continue dozing, we risk missing out. Didn’t Paul warn us, on Ash Wednesday?
“I tell you,
now is the time of God’s favour,
now is the day of salvation.
(2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
That’s why I ask this grace from Lord:
That I may, fully awake, keep the rendezvous with you throughout this Lenten season. I don’t want to miss any scene of your disclosures. I want to stand ready to capture every moment of your disclosure!
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