Fuel for courage

This is the 2nd Sunday of Lent and each year on this day our gospel is taken from one of the accounts of the Transfiguration – this year we take it from Luke. It is the same gospel we hear every August 6th on the Feast of the Transfiguration. This year I began to wonder why we proclaim this gospel on this Sunday. Last week, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus’ temptation in the desert – well, that seems like a perfectly good start to the Lenten season.  But why read the Transfiguration – why here on this 2nd Sunday of Lent? Is there a meaning, particularly Lenten, that we should hear and understand – apart from the meaning and message we would consider on August 6th? Continue reading

Being intentional

Last week I wrote about making your Lenten Plan, so maybe this week we can think about the age-old question: So… “What are you giving up for Lent?” Isn’t that always the question? As if that is the reason for the season. Growing up, everything I remember about Lent circled around the acts of self-denial – what food, entertainment, or habit one would give up, and how hard it was to deny oneself of that thing. It was not always made clear that the denial was meant to help one think about God and Christ’s sacrifice. Continue reading

2nd Sunday in Lent

This coming Sunday marks the second Sunday in Lent (Year C). The gospel for this Sunday is the Lucan version of the Transfiguration found in Luke 9:28-36 (on the other side of this link in a full pdf of a gospel commentary on the reading.) The Transfiguration event is also described in Mt 17:1-9 and Mk 9:2-10 – readings that are traditionally proclaimed on the 2nd Sunday of Lent in their own respective liturgical years as well as on the Feast of the Transfiguration each August 6th.  The location of the mountain is not given anywhere in the Gospels. Some have thought that it was a part of Mt. Hermon, near Caesarea Philippi, since the transfiguration occurs shortly after Peter’s confession there in Mark. On the other hand, since the time of Origen, the mountain has been identified as Mt. Tabor, near Nazareth, but the significance of the location may actually lie more in its parallel with the experience of Moses and Elijah on Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb. Continue reading

Looking around

I wonder why the Catholic Church chooses this gospel account every 2nd Sunday in Lent. We always hear the reading of the Transfiguration, the glorious account of the divine glory of God being revealed in the person of Jesus. It is amazing – so amazing that we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration every August 6th; we have been doing so for 800 years or so. Our Christian brothers and sisters proclaim this gospel on the Sunday before Lent. That also makes some sense to me because it is from this point in the story that Jesus will head straight to Jerusalem, culminating in Passion Week, fulfilling exactly what Jesus told them: he would be raised from the dead after suffering. Jesus’ words point to the crucifixion, just as Lent begins to point us to Good Friday. Reading the Transfiguration immediately before Lent gets us ready. But why the 2nd Sunday in Lent? But why proclaim this gospel twice in the same liturgical year? Continue reading

Connecting dots

And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” (Mt 17:2) Transfigured, metamorphoo – to change the visible appearance; I used to think that maybe Epiphany would have been a better title for what happened on the mountain top. Epiphany meaning the revealing or the unveiling. Then again, I don’t think the full glory of God was revealed; just a single layer was pealed back. Perhaps transfigured is the better word. How much more could the apostles have seen and heard – and, more importantly, to begin to comprehend? The Book of Exodus 33:20 says that if we saw God face-to-face we would not survive the encounter. It would be too much for our mortal being. So, maybe it is better that only a single layer was peeled back. Continue reading

Transfiguration: hearing rightly

transfiguration mystagogyWhat are they to hear? What are they to listen to? While “all the words from Jesus” is a general answer, a more specific answer from our context is Jesus’ teaching just before our text (8:31-38). In these verses, Jesus speaks words that the disciples (especially Peter) were unable to hear – the prediction of his Passion and death. Peter rebukes Jesus for talking about his Passion. Peter doesn’t want to listen to such words. Peter’s problem, as Jesus indicates it, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (8:33). The same problem might be evident in his desire to build three booths. Continue reading

Transfiguration: context

transfiguration mystagogy2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 4 Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 5 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.” 6 He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. 7 Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. 9 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. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant. Continue reading