The Second Sunday of Lent
March 5, 2023
Fr. Josť Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Pastor of the Church of St. Peter
North St. Paul, Minnesota
Sunday Reading Meditations
Today's Gospel tells us that Jesus manifested his glory to the disciples on the holy mountain in order to show them that his passion would lead to the glory of the resurrection. On this second Sunday of Lent, we, too, are invited to climb the mountain and contemplate Jesus' glory.
The transfiguration of Christ shows us that we have a glorious destiny. During this Lenten season, we are called to pass from darkness to light. As St. Paul says, "(f)or God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of (Jesus) Christ" (2 Cor 4:6).
Jesus chose the three apostles who would remain with him in his agony to witness his transfiguration. Their presence at both events underscores the unity between the cross of Jesus and the glory of God the Father. Jesus' passion is the hour of his glorification: "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (Jn 12:23).
Moses and Elijah were also present: "And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him" (Mt 17:4). The transfiguration consecrated the revelation of Jesus as the suffering and glorious Son of Man, whose death and resurrection would fulfill the Scriptures.
In St. Peter's second letter, he describes the experience of witnessing the transfiguration in these words: "We had been eyewitnesses of him majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, "This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.' We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain" (2Pt 1:16-18).
"Lord, it is good that we are here" (Mt 17:4), exclaimed Peter. Nothing surpasses seeing God's beauty and glory. It was on the mountain top that the apostles finally experienced the fullness of grace.
In the second reading, St. Paul says: "He saved us and called us to a holy life" (2 Tim 1:9). A holy life is a glorious life. Through baptism, we Christians become partakers in the mystery of the resurrection, as prefigured by the transfiguration. We are called to reflect God's glory: "All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Cor 3:18).
In our earthly participation in Christ's sufferings, we strive for a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus in order to discover the hidden glory we have received through baptism. Our faith is supported by the contemplation of the glorious face of Jesus, as the disciples' faith was supported by his transfiguration. Today's first reading tells us how Abraham, placing his trust in God's promise, entered into a journey of faith and became a blessing for all generations (cf. Gen 12:1-2).
Our spiritual sight needs to be purified for us to see God's light. In the Sanctus, we proclaim: "Heaven and earth are full of your glory." However, we are prevented from seeing the light because original and personal sin has atrophied our spiritual senses. It is difficult for us to go beyond appearances.
We can restore our spiritual sight through meditation on the Word of God. That is what the Father tells us to do: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him" (Mt 17:5).
Contemplative prayer is preceded by mental prayer. Through prayerful reflection on the Word of God, Jesus leads us up to the mountain top, where he shows us his glory.
May the Lord cleanse the eyes of our hearts. May we contemplate and delight in the glory of God through all eternity. Amen.