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On the second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading proclaims the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. 

 We need to remember that the Transfiguration  took place as the last event before Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem even when he knew that the Sadducees and Pharisees were plotting his death. It is, in some sense, at least as the Gospel writers set it, the culmination of his teaching and action which is then followed by the events which lead to the cross. These readings are given to us in Lent to reveal Christ’s identity and to strengthen us in the face of our afflictions.

  Jesus took Peter and James and John with him,  for prayer up on the mountain. While he was praying his whole being was suffused with light and the disciples saw Moses and Elijah standing with him. Peter suggests that they should build three “tabernacles,” three shrines to Honor the three, Jesus, Moses and Elijah. They understood that Jesus was as important as the Law and the Prophets, but no more.  At this point they are all “overshadowed” by cloud   However, they are immediately told that he is much more. That indeed he is the Son of God, the Beloved who was to be listened to and heard. Then, the cloud clears and there were only the four of them, Jesus, Peter, James and John. So, for the disciples this “transfiguration” which made Jesus so “white” that nothing earthly could have produced that light is immediately confirmed by the presence of Moses and Elijah and then established by the voice from the cloud identifying him as the one who was promised in the Law and the Prophets and who was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. And then, suddenly, it was all over, and everything was back to normal. Or was it?

And Jesus started walking towards Jerusalem, walking towards his death, walking towards that cup he prayed he would not have to drink, but which he would accept if it was His Father’s Will. Suddenly, having just been declared to be “My Son, the Beloved” he and we are back in the everyday world. And having been transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John, he and they and we have the regular everyday events to do. He and they and we are back to the way of the cross.

“Transfiguration,” then, while it may change our understanding, while it may confirm our faith, while it may even confuse us, does not and never will take us out of the real world in which he and they lived, and we live now.

Obviously, the disciples were confused by this event. Equally obviously, they really didn’t want Jesus to go to Jerusalem, but when he went, they went with him and in the following days they were to share the Last Supper, to betray him by act or denial or by running away; to know him as dead; and then to know Him as their Risen Lord.

And so, it is with us. We have, in some sense, seen Him Transfigured; we have met Him and been fed or healed and so we have some experience of that “light” that is in and through Him.  Yes, we still, like Him, have the way of the cross to walk in our lives, but having been given the grace of the light we will walk in its presence, His presence, and our lives, too, will be transfigured if we let His light shine through us.

 The real story of Lent and the real value of Lent will comes as the light returns in the Easter Vigil. We need to be honest about our darkness, yes, but far more importantly, we need to let His light shine through so that others, seeing the light may learn to follow it.

   As our Lord turned towards Jerusalem immediately after being transfigured in the presence of Peter and James and John, so we are called to walk our way of the cross here in this world, in our lives, just as He did. The light gives us both the direction and the strength to follow His way of the cross.  


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