The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent traditionally features a telling of the Transfiguration of our Lord and this year’s account from St. Mark is no different. The timing is such because tradition holds that this event took place precisely at this point during our Lord’s public ministry. But why?
Well, in the Transfiguration, we have Jesus with his usual chosen “inner circle” of Apostles: Peter, James, and John. In a sense, they are like “ambassadors” to the rest – and by extension, to us as well. They journey with him up on Mount Tabor and see something which is beyond description: a vision of the glorified Lord accompanied by Moses and Elijah who acknowledge His person and concur in His mission. They are spellbound and filled with joy. Most likely they didn’t realize it at the time, but they had just experienced a glimpse of glory.
Jesus did this for a very good and specific reason: to build-up the faith of the Apostles which would be shaken by the events of his arrest and crucifixion. To their surprise for sure, unlike the other times when Jesus was confronted, this time by God’s Will, the Shepherd would be struck and the sheep would scatter. What would there be to give them hope, to overcome doubt, to make them realize that all was not lost but, rather, God’s plan was being fulfilled on their behalf? The memory of the glimpse of glory. It held them over until they encountered the real thing: the Risen Lord Himself. Then it all began to fall into place and, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, make sense.
What Jesus did for the Apostles is precisely what He does for us today. We, too, now receive a glimpse of glory. We must hold on to this during our own dark times, moments of doubt, and when dealing with the sometimes unending trials of life. We need to realize that Christ has already conquered the sin and death that stalk us. Any seeming “victory” on their part will ultimately be vanquished by the glory of the Lord. And, best of all, we share in that victory and, one day, in that glory, provided we are one with the Lord. The Transfiguration is like our own, personal, shot-in-the-arm to strengthen our faith. Let us reflect upon it this week and facilitate it doing just that in our lives.
Fr. Eric Orzech