Homily for the second Sunday of Lent
Year A - Mt. 17:1-9
Father Daniel Meynen
"Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, «Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah.» He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, «This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.» When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, «Rise, and have no fear.» And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, «Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead.»"
"Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light."
The second Sunday of Lent is consecrated to the Mystery of Lord's Transfiguration. That is, the Church asks us to pause and reflect upon this event of Lord's life, in order to get some spiritual benefit from it for our journey toward Easter.
The Mystery of the Transfiguration deeply marked the mind of one of those who was present: Peter! The proof is that Peter couldn't help telling others what he had seen. He did so by writing in his second epistle: "We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, «This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,» we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain." (2 P. 1:16-18)
This insistence on the Apostle's part is important for the Church of all ages! It shows how much this Mystery of the transfigured Jesus must be a part of all of her life in the world, which she is called to transform through faith in her mission! Now, the world which the Church must transform is first that from which she is composed. For the Church is composed of men and women who live in the world and who come from the world. The Church is Christ's Body, which gives the world a new face: that of the Father's Glory in Jesus! The Church constantly begets new children, who are the men and women from around the world who are called to believe in the Savior and to demonstrate their hope in the eternal life that is in God!
The Transfiguration of Jesus shows us already what God's Glory will be, of which we are promised a share for all eternity: the Transfiguration of Jesus already shows us, mysteriously, what the realization of our hope will be in the eternal life that is in God! Similarly, the sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist - already resurrect us in Christ: they make us other Christs. But this resurrection through the sacraments is only a beginning of the eternal Resurrection that will manifest itself in the end times. For the Transfiguration of Jesus took place on the way to his Passion: when Jesus was transfigured, he was not yet risen!
Saint Peter did not fail to speak of this hope that is in us and that is based on our own interior transfiguration: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 P. 1:3-5) Saint Paul would restate this concisely: "In this hope we were saved." (Rm. 8:24)
The Transfiguration of Jesus took place on the way to his Passion. This event therefore had the effect of stimulating hope in Jesus' disciples: it was necessary for them to see this Glory of God before seeing their Master reduced to nothing at the time of his Passion. When Jesus appeared disfigured, spat upon, humiliated, and finally disowned by his own People, it was necessary for the disciples to be able to remember this extraordinary event, the Transfiguration. Without this, their hope would have completely disappeared. Their faith had indeed died out completely (except for that of Mary) but, thoughout that terrifying time, a gleam of hope persisted in them: that of the Transfiguration!
Our celebration today is also like a transfiguration: we are going to acclaim the Lord in the act of his Sacrifice, and yet the victim will not be manifested in a bloody form. On the contrary, what we will taste will have the sweetness of milk and honey, to use an image from Holy Scripture. Jesus will be present to us under the form of Bread and Wine, and he will invite us to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb! May Mary, who lived another Transfiguration on the day of the Incarnation, help us through her almighty prayer: may Mary be the Mother of our Holy Hope!