Second Sunday of Lent C
In today’s Gospel it says that Jesus took Peter, James, and John and went up the mountain to pray. He sets them apart from the rest in order for them to experience something special. Whenever the Gospel tell us that Jesus took His disciples “apart by themselves” we know that some very special revelation is about to happen. Another time Peter, James, and John were the only apostles with Him – do you remember? They went with Him into the room of the daughter of the synagogue official when He raised her from the dead.
He takes the three with him up to the top of the mountain to pray with Him. This has to be a pretty special event. Jesus doesn’t often just take a few of His followers with Him. Most often He goes by Himself to pray.
So what do Peter, James and John do? They follow him up the mountain and while up on the mountain top with Jesus, they fall asleep. This is maybe a glimpse into what happens in the Garden at Gethsemani?
As I read and re-read the readings and those passages around them I started to wonder how could Peter, James and John have fallen asleep? How could they fall asleep just days after Jesus told them he was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die? How could they fall asleep on Jesus when he must have needed their support right then?
And then I starting thinking, WELL, we know the story. We have the benefit of really knowing who Jesus is. Our faith tells us, in no uncertain terms, that Jesus is the Son of God. That Jesus is God. Yet, we can fall asleep in His presence. We can fall asleep at Mass. We can fall asleep when the reader is proclaiming the Word of God, or our priest or deacon is explaining what the Word of God is calling us to do. We can fall asleep when reading the Bible, the Living Word of God, through which God speaks to us. We can spiritually snooze our way through our prayers, the rosary, and our Mass, repeating the words of our prayers but maybe, not really praying. Saying the responses at Mass, but not really thinking about what we are saying. Those are just the words we are supposed to say . . . We can say our prayers, say the rosary, respond at Mass, perform our “religious duties” all on autopilot. I wonder how we could possibly consider that as a full and active spiritual life? We can autopilot through the first part of Mass, grab communion, and then rush out the door – spiritually sleeping our way through life and yet we can consider ourselves “practicing Catholics?” Being on auto pilot in our spiritual life - that my brothers and sisters, is something we all probably need to work on. Why don’t we all – me included – especially me, make this lent a time of greater participation in our spiritual lives?
We didn’t see Jesus’ Transfiguration in the same way as Peter, James and John. We didn’t physically see Jesus transformed on the mountain, however St. Paul tells us that, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5: 7)
On the mountaintop, the Apostles’ spiritual eyes were opened and they caught a glimpse of the true reality of Jesus that they had never seen before. In the Transfiguration, Peter, John, and James saw that there was more to Jesus than what they could normally see, hear and touch. They got a glimpse of the future glory of Jesus’ resurrection, of who Jesus really is, His true self, His divinity.
They see Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah, who also appeared in glory and spoke of His exodus that He was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. The Greek work “exodus” means “departure.” The word is chosen here purposely to stir remembrance of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt. This Exodus is not liberating Israel from bondage to Pharaoh, but liberating every people from slavery to sin and death. He will lead all people, not to the land promised to Abraham in today’s First Reading, but to the realm of heaven that St. Paul describes in today’s Second Reading.
What does the Transfiguration tell us? In Luke it states, “His face changed in appearance and His clothing became dazzling white.” In Matthew, “His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light.”
In 1 Corinthians 13: 12 it says, “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face.” The Transfiguration gives us a glimpse of what Jesus will be like when we see Him face to face, of His true identity, and also what awaits US in heaven. After all, we are made in the image and likeness of God.
St. James tells us, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 James 3:2)
This is what the Prophet Daniel says about our future, “But those with insight shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, And those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” (Daniel 12: 3)
One of my favorite scripture passages speaks of how God gives gifts to us: “. . . a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.”
The ordinary is not good enough for us. God gives us super-natural grace. He builds on nature but goes beyond it. If we live in God’s will, His grace will overflow as joyful hope into every aspect of our ordinary, daily lives making each aspect extraordinary for all to see.
We need to prepare for what awaits us in heaven. We need to start shining like stars now. We need to polish ourselves spiritually. After all, isn’t that what Lent is all about? We need to prepare ourselves for Easter and for eternity. We need to prepare in our hearts and our souls.
What are you doing to prepare for Easter during Lent this year?
We all know that the three traditional practices of Lent are fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. Fr. Larry Richards says, “When it comes to fasting, we need to look at where our sins are, and then give up something that will help us deal with that sin. Why not give up being negative or complaining for Lent? Fasting should help us to die to self and to sin, so that we can live more fully for God and others, and thus grow in holiness.”
This time of Lent is our time to be transfigured. We need to be transformed into the best Catholics we can be. We need to be transfigured into the people of God that we are supposed to be - the people of God we are meant to be.