March 13, 2022
What a light and sound show! Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain to pray. Jesus prays. The disciples fall asleep. The face of Jesus changes and his clothes become dazzling white. Moses and Elijah, pillars of the Jewish faith, come and converse with Jesus about his coming Exodus. Peter, James, and John wake up. Peter, not knowing what to say, proposes to erect three tents. A cloud overshadows them. Then a voice from heaven, “This is my chosen Son, listen to him.” Alone with Jesus, they fall silent.
What happened? Would sophisticated sensors in place there detect any light or sound? Maybe not. Anthropologists who study such phenomenon in ancient and contemporary societies speak of “altered states of consciousness.” Those who read and reflect on Sacred Scripture understand what is taking place is a “theophany” or manifestation of God’s presence. Mountains are places where we meet God. Moses encounters God and receives the 10 Commandments on Mt. Sinai. Elijah encounters God as “sound in sheer silence” on Mt. Horeb. In the Bible, clouds both reveal and hide the divine presence.
Context is important. In the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus has been trying to explain to his disciples that, contrary to popular opinion, the Messiah must suffer and die. Jesus predicts his own death! The transfiguration is a revelation of God the Father’s favor on Jesus, the Chosen Son, and God’s dramatic way of catching the disciples’ attention. “Hey guys listen to him.” When Jesus and the three disciples, his inner circle, come down the mountain, Jesus sets his course to Jerusalem, the city of destiny where he will be arrested, crucified, and executed. Strangely, God’s glory will be revealed in and through the scandal of the cross.
Lent is a time for us to enter his suffering, not merely through reflection, prayer, and penance but concretely, by sharing in the suffering of the body of Christ. We see this suffering all around us in Ukraine and, closer to home, in others and in ourselves. Only with faith, hope, and love can we discern God’s mysterious presence in suffering.
God is revealed in and through women and men, young and old, who live with fidelity, integrity and kindness like a little girl singing “Let it go” in a bomb shelter in Ukraine or, here, grandparents taking on added responsibility of raising grandchildren. Today, I invite a speaker from Catholic Charities to talk briefly on multiple services being provided to help people in need in WNY. God’s glory is revealed in and through our Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy that manifest and convey God's commpassionate presence.
First Sunday of Lent
Third Sunday of Lent