Delighting the Father
by Rev. Jack Peterson, YA
To Sunday Gospel Reflections Index
Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and do not be afraid." And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, "Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
The church takes us for a walk up a high mountain on the second Sunday of Lent to join Jesus, Peter, James and John on a prayer adventure. It was the last leg of a six-day journey. I have often considered in meditation that Jesus had a series of very warm, personal conversations with the three Apostles on this journey, especially as they climbed Mount Tabor, clarifying questions, convincing them of his deep care, encouraging them for the sacrifices that they were making for his sake and gently inviting them to deeper conversion of heart. Jesus had prepared these future church leaders for what would happen after they reached the summit.
According to Matthew, “(Jesus) was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” Jesus chose to bless Peter, James and John with a spectacular privilege. For a precious moment, Our Lord laid aside the cloak of his humanity and allowed them to glimpse the glory of God exploding forth from his very being like the sun. This gift would be a source of strength, a moment they would return to often, especially during the countless trials and persecutions they would face for the rest of their lives as his Apostles.
Can you recall an event or a moment when God chose to reveal himself to you in a clear and definitive way? Go back to that moment in prayer and thank God for it.
Peter, James and John would receive another spectacular grace that day. God, the Father, chose to address them from the midst of a cloud: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” We are given a glimpse into a second mystery on this mountain top. While we can never fully grasp the depth, beauty or complexity of the relationship between the Father and the Son, we are given a quick snapshot.
Our almighty Father does not speak directly to us very often in the Gospels. So, we need to pay close attention when he does. In these 14 words, the Father shares with us two critical realities. First, the most significant element of his relationship with his Son is the love that exists between them. The Father could have highlighted many things about Jesus from the cloud. He chose to call him “my beloved Son.” This love defines their relationship and is the source of all love. The Triune God created each and every one of us, in fact, to participate in — to get drawn up into — that love for all eternity.
Do I take time to truly ponder and be abundantly grateful for both the love that is within God and the overflowing love that God has for me?
Second, the Father expresses tremendous delight in Jesus. He is well pleased with his only-begotten Son. This delight is, in fact, an eternal reality. However, the Son is, at this moment, on a mission while walking the dirt roads of Galilee and he is lovingly, obediently accomplishing the Father’s plan, which will soon come to a climax on the cross in Jerusalem. This loving obedience delights the Father. Their relationship is absolutely beautiful to behold.
Now is a good moment to recall that through the gift of our baptism, we become sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. As his child, the Father takes great delight in you. Are you growing in your acceptance of this great truth?
Finally, the Father extends a challenge to us: “Listen to him.” We must take to heart these words of the Father. We are summoned to build into our daily lives time to listen to Jesus on a very regular basis. Our Lord deeply desires to speak to us and does so in many ways — through sacred Scriptures, the teaching office of the church, the lives and writings of the saints, and in the quiet of our hearts.
What is your perspective on daily prayer and regular participation in the sacraments? Do you try to fit daily prayer into your life or do you build the rest of your life around the time you prioritize for God?