God’s call is personal and at the same time very demanding. It is an invitation to enter into His holiness with an attitude of faith and total trust in God. We encounter a God who speaks to us and we are called upon to listen to Him and respond to Him. Now as we enter the Second Week of Lent, our task is to continue to examine our hearts and change ourselves in order to be worthy of His glorious paschal mystery. God tells us that our thoughts are not like His thoughts and our ways are not akin to those of His choice. As human beings we do not like change and we resist any change as much as we can. However, change is a part of our life and we cannot just depend on our past glory and achievements. We know that we are pilgrims on a journey to a more permanent dwelling place, a place of total union with our God of Truth and Love. The Gospel of today speaks of striking intervention by God in people’s lives indicated through the transfiguration of Jesus on the Mountain. Jesus is transfigured in the presence of His disciples, manifesting to them His divinity to strengthen them in their faith before He enters into his Passion and death on the cross. They are called upon to listen to Him, the one chosen by the Father. In the first reading we heard God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Even though God had promised a great dynasty for him, Abraham shows his obedience and displays complete trust in God’s promise. God preserves his son and also grants him his multiple rewards. In the second reading Paul assures us that we have nothing to fear. God the Father and His beloved son are on our side.
Jesus was telling His disciples that He was destined to suffer, die and to rise again. But the disciples could not grasp the meaning of this saying. It was beyond their expectation. They knew very well of Jesus, His whereabouts and family background. Their minds were clogged with their bias and prejudices, assumptions and assimilations they made up in their minds. The disciples lived with Jesus throughout His ministry in Galilee. Even the closest of Jesus’ friends walked with Him as He made His way to Jerusalem were blinded by their daily routines. They thought they knew Jesus and they knew what to expect from Jesus. Something unexpected happened six days after He revealed to His disciples about His passion death and resurrection. To make the disciples aware of Jesus’ glory and divinity the transfiguration took place.
The ‘Transfiguration’ was a proof given by Jesus to His disciples that He really belongs to the heavenly realm. This heavenly experience takes place on the mountain top. Even though there are many parallels between Moses’ mountain top experience and the transfiguration of Jesus, the transfiguration of Jesus is a far superior event in which Moses and Elijah come together to vouch for the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of law and prophesy. When Moses witnessed the glory of God, his appearance was changed. Unlike the Moses’ experience in transfiguration, from Jesus emanates the glory. The lordship and glory of Jesus is shown by the shining white clothes. The evangelists’ emphasis on the narration of the shining white clothes is to show us that Jesus belongs to the heavenly realm. When Jesus rose from the dead (Mark 16:5) women encountered a man in white cloth at the empty tomb, who clearly represents an angelic being who belonged to the heavenly realm.
The transfiguration of Jesus was not just an invitation for the disciples to see and listen alone but to be transformed like him. All creation undergoes transformation, and we too are called to be transformed. The first transformation begins with our baptism and we are made the children of God. The second transformation takes place through the life stages, with our constant effort to overcome sin, resist the devil and to reach the spiritual maturity. St Paul speaks of this transformation like this :“when I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see the things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways ( 1 Corinthians 13: 11-12). The third transformation takes place at death. With death begins eternal life and the final transformation will take place at the second coming when our body is reunited with our soul.
By describing Jesus’ transfiguration, the gospel gives us a glimpse of the heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting faith in Him. We taste that heavenly glory like the disciples while here on earth, through the sacraments and through His word. Even amidst the routines of our daily lives there is a chance for surprise. Around every corner, in every part of life, experiences of wonder await us. We only need to look to see, listen to hear, and open our minds to experience.
“He shows us a spark of eternal glory and a drop of that ocean, of that sea of incomparable felicity, to make us desire in its entirety.” ~ St. Francis de Sales