2nd Sunday in Lent
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your love and I trust in your love. I want to love you as you deserve to be loved, because when I was nothing you gave me life, and when I was far from you, you redeemed me. My soul is open for you to speak to me in this prayer.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to know you as you are, and to realize what you want me to be. By baptism you have transformed me and called me to be an apostle of your love, but I am weak and I need your grace to be faithful to that call.
1. Knowing about Jesus, and Experiencing Jesus. Immediately before this scene of the Transfiguration the gospel tells us of Peter’s “Confession of Faith”—this was when Jesus asked the apostles who they thought he was and Peter answered for them all: you are the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus told him he was right, that the Father had revealed this to Peter, but then Jesus went on to say that he himself would have to be crucified and die, and Peter did not accept this. Now, at the Transfiguration, Peter goes from knowing things about Jesus, some of which he finds easy to accept and others very difficult, to actually experiencing Jesus, “seeing” Jesus in a new light, in all his truth. Once he has had this experience of Jesus on the mountaintop, seeing with his own eyes his glory, which was far beyond anything on this earth, and seeing Moses and Elijah (the two greatest Old Testament figures) conversing with him, he enters a whole new level of understanding of Jesus, and so of dealing with him.
We all want to experience Christ, we want him to go from someone we know something about to being a real, live presence in our lives. How can we make that leap? How can we truly “experience” Christ? What can we do so that our dealings with him will change as radically as Peter’s must have after he came down from that mountain? Peter was privileged to see Jesus’ glory with his own eyes. What does Jesus himself answer as regards the path that is open to us to experience him? Jesus said to him (Thomas), you believe because you can see me. More blessed are those who have not seen yet believe. (John 20:29) And Peter himself tells the early Christians: You have not seen him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him you believe in him and so are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described; and you are sure of the goal of your faith, that is, the salvation of your souls. (1 P 1:8-9)
This answer seems to beg the question, but if we look at the lives of the saints we see the power of the gift of faith. If we look at the lives of our brothers and sisters where Christians suffer persecution we can see the same power at work. What is important is not what I feel but how I conduct my life, that will tell me just how truly I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he is my Savior, that I have been baptized into him to live according to the New Man in Christ and not the ways of the world.
2. Consolation in Prayer. It is good to be here! Peter blurts out his wonder and joy at seeing Jesus in all his glory. He wants the world to stand still right there, and for nothing to change. He can’t think of anything better to wish for than to be there on that mountain with Jesus transfigured. This is what we call consolation in prayer, when everything seems to be working wonderfully and we are completely satisfied and taken up with our contemplation of Jesus. The contentment and satisfaction we feel are a little foretaste of heaven. We sometimes think that these are the really fruitful times of prayer, and we worry when they end or when they no longer are common.
We cannot expect such a situation to last forever. Like the apostles, and Jesus himself, we have to come down from the mountaintop, roll up our sleeves and get involved in the everyday business of our lives. The important thing to remember about prayer is that when we end it and get back to the ordinary things in life, we don’t leave Jesus on the mountaintop—he comes down with us, to be present with us in all we have to do. The Father said to Peter, James and John: this is my Beloved Son, listen to him. This is also important. Jesus comes into our daily life with us, to teach us how to live and to inspire us what to say, what to do and what to avoid. Our prayer is truly fruitful when Jesus becomes a living part of the way I live my life.
3. "They Saw No One with Them Anymore But Only Jesus." As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. There is something very private and intimate about our prayer. It not important so much to speak and theorize about it as to bring its fruits with us into our lives. Our new attitude towards God our Father, Christ our Brother, my neighbor as Christ living alongside me, the poor, the suffering, those thirsting for truth.., must be the real hint that I have touched and been touched by Christ in prayer.
Conversation: I want to see your face, Lord, and live. Grant me an increase in faith, enable me to revive my faith and believe more firmly, touching you and filling my soul with you in the Eucharist. Let me bring you with me into my daily activities, my responsibilities and duties. Let your love in my heart be ever stronger, so as to open my eyes and mind to the needs of my brothers and sisters. Let my hope always be surer and more steadfast, so as to persevere in your friendship.
1. How well do I know Christ himself, as opposed to knowing things about him? Do I actually speak to him in prayer?
2. Am I focused on how I feel in prayer, or on how I take his words to me into my daily life?
3. What do I need to do in order to pray better and more sincerely?