Homily for the second Sunday of Lent - Year C - Lk. 9:28-36
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
" Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, «Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah» -- not knowing what he said. As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, «This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!» And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. "
" Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. "
A few days after having confirmed Peter in his mission as the "rock" (Mt. 16:18) and foundation upon which he would build his Church, Jesus takes Peter, John and James up on a mountain, Mount Tabor in Galilee. Jesus certainly could have taken with him the twelve apostles, and invited them all to contemplate his glory in the Mystery of his Transfiguration. But he did not do so. For he wanted to give us a sign: that of divine election.
What the Mystery of the Transfiguration realizes in Jesus is the glorification of human nature, elevated by God to the most profound intimacy, in limitless charity, with divine nature itself. Jesus-Man is truly transfigured: the glory of divinity is reflected in a dazzling way on his face and on his entire being. But this is also, and especially, a sign for the men and women who are called by God to share in his infinite happiness.
Saint Luke tells us that Jesus prayed. Now, Jesus did not pray as if he had to ask his Father for some power he did not have: Jesus is both God and Man, and he is the Almighty. Thus, if Jesus prayed, and he did do so, it was to give us an example to follow, it was to be the sign of humanity glorified by the Father, in the Spirit. Thus, when Jesus prays with the three apostles Peter, John and James, he does so in order to tell us, by way of a sign, that only a few men (or women) respond to the call of God.
Of course, among the apostles, it was not only Peter, John and James who were among the elect of God. But, in the group of the nine other apostles that Jesus did not take with him, there was Judas, the traitor, the "son of perdition" (Jn. 17:12). This clearly shows that these nine others signified those men and women who, unfortunately, would be lost forever, not benefitting from the bliss of Heaven and the glory of God. Jesus never ceased repeating this in his discourses: "Many are called, but few are chosen." (Mt. 22:14)
" And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. "
God desires the salvation of all the men and women he created in his Love. This is true, and it will always remain true until the end of the world. But who wants to make the effort to attain Salvation in Jesus Christ? Who wants to follow the Lord in the ignominy of the Cross of Calvary in order that he might thus receive, from the Father, the Glory of the Resurrection in the Holy Spirit? Who is the man or woman who speaks with Jesus in Holy Communion, asking him, in the silence of the heart, for the graces necessary for him or her to carry each day's cross?
For this is our daily Transfiguration: Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ! Through it, we are already glorified and transfigured with Christ, going step by step on the sometimes smooth, sometimes difficult road of this earthly life. Through the Mystery of his Transfiguration in the presence of Moses and Elijah, Jesus wanted to show his apostles, ahead of time, the Glory of his Resurrection. They would thus be better able to undergo the trial of the Cross and the Passion of their Master. We, too, can receive within us the risen Jesus in order to be better able to carry our daily cross.
" Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, «Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah» -- not knowing what he said. "
Peter is filled with the joy of the Spirit! Peter is happy! Are we not just as happy when Jesus comes to visit us through his grace? Or when we approach the altar to receive the Body of Christ? Truly, Peter is at the summit of happiness, to the point that he no longer knows what he says: "... not knowing what he said." On the day of Pentecost, during the feast of Tabernacles, Peter will once again seem almost insane with joy through the anointing of the Holy Spirit who will have just entered him. People will even think that Peter and the apostles are drunk: "They are filled with new wine." (Acts 2:13) Indeed, they had drunk of the wine of the Spirit!
" As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, «This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!» And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. "
Jesus, Moses and Elijah disappear in the cloud that covered them. Peter, John and James are frightened. But of what are the apostles really afraid? Of the cloud, or of the voice of the Father? In fact, both of these are a single Mystery: that of the New Covenant in Jesus the Son of God. The cloud makes the representatives of the Old Law - Moses and Elijah - disappear, in order to make way for the New Law in Jesus Christ. When the Father speaks, this is nothing other than the proclamation of the Good News, the Good News that lives in Jesus the Son of God. The cloud and the voice of the Father both lead to Jesus, and Jesus alone: "When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone."
The new has a certain attraction: it changes! But, the new also causes fear, for what is new to us is unknown. The same applies to the new life in Jesus Christ: it attracts us, but in a sense it also frightens us. Who is not afraid of death? And yet, it is the only thing that can bring us this new life in Jesus the Son of God. All the men and women of the earth are called by God to share in his life for all eternity, but which of them will be the elect of God? Happiness and fear, love and justice: an inseparable couple!
" And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. "
Even if the Spirit of God were to give someone the inner conviction that he is one of the elect of the Lord, why would this person shout it out from the rooftops? First of all, due to humility, he would fear the possibility that he is mistaken: "errare humanum est"! Also, if he did act in this way, it would be extremely likely to cause jealousy in other people, a jealousy that the devil would not fail to stir up. It would be better to wait until the day of the Resurrection of the dead to speak of it! So this is what the apostles did, and particularly Peter, who awaited the Resurrection of his Master, and even beyond, to speak of the Transfiguration of the Lord, as he did in his second epistle (cf. 2 P. 1:17).
The Most Blessed Virgin Mary lived this Mystery of the Transfiguration in a very special way: for nine months, she carried Jesus within her and enjoyed a unique intimacy with her Divine Son. Let us ask her to allow us to share a little in that happiness each time we communicate of Jesus in his Eucharist, he who comes into us to transfigure us in him!