We’re only a week and a half into the season of Lent, but the Sunday readings are already giving us a sneak peek at Easter! In the Gospel reading, Jesus is transfigured before His apostles so that His face shines like the sun and His clothes become dazzling white, a sign of His divinity and a prefiguration of the glory of His resurrection. It is this glory that St. Paul is referring to in his letter to Timothy when he speaks about “the grace which [God] gave us in Christ Jesus… manifested through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus.” In His resurrection, Jesus abolishes death and brings life to light, and the key phrase here is that he did so “through the gospel” because it is by the fact that He fulfills the law and the prophets that He is “well-pleasing” to the Father and able to offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our redemption and be raised to life again. Jesus’ life “through the gospel” is seen concretely in the Transfiguration as He speaks to Moses (a symbol of the law) and Elijah (a symbol of the prophets) whose mission, you’ll remember, he has not come to abolish but fulfill. Jesus not only lives the law but lives out the disposition of heart that the law tries to build up in us, and he not only interprets the Scriptures for the people but, by being one with the Father, establishes a new relationship between us and God. He is the perfect King and Prophet, which will become most clear in his passion and resurrection, the act of the perfect Priest.
The Transfiguration and the Resurrection are so tightly linked that we might wonder why we’re hearing about this event during the Mass now, early in this penitential season of Lent. The answer, I think, can be found when we look at the story in context. Immediately preceding all the accounts of the Transfiguration is the exchange between Jesus and Peter, when Jesus asks “whom do you say that I am?” Peter’s answer, that Jesus is the Christ, is undercut by the fact that he doesn’t understand the necessity of Jesus’ suffering and death and only wants to see Him in His glory, earning him his rebuke. Immediately following the Transfiguration is the story of Jesus healing the epileptic boy, whom the disciples cannot help because of their lack of faith, and then another foretelling of His death. Jesus’ disciples don’t listen to him and don’t understand the reality of what will happen to Him in Jerusalem. The Cross stands between them and the glory they hope to see, but Jesus wants them to understand the necessity of His Passion with a mind to the hope of the Resurrection. As we continue our journey through Lent and prepare ourselves for Calvary, let us hold onto the hope of the Resurrection, manifested in the Transfiguration, and “listen to Him.”
Daniel Salé – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta.
Fot. Eberhard Grossgasteiger/Unsplash.com