martes, 18 de marzo de 2014

Transfiguration: A Foretaste of Resurrection!

2nd Sunday of Lent
March 16, 2014
Mt 17:1-9

Each year on the First Sunday of Lent, we listen to an account of the temptations of the Lord. It makes us aware of the humanity of Jesus and his need to overcome temptation in his life. On the Second Sunday of Lent, we listen to an account of the Transfiguration of the Lord. In doing so the emphasis shifts to the divinity of Jesus. His glory as God’s Son is revealed and he is seen as the fulfillment of God’s promise through the Law and the Prophets. Thus, those preparing for Baptism, as well as those preparing to renew their baptismal promises at Easter, are reminded of an essential matter of Christian faith: Jesus is both human and divine.

The Transfiguration is also one way that the inspired Word of God teaches us that Jesus is the fulfillment of the hopes and expectations of God’s people for many generations. The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus indicates that the Law and the Prophets find their completion and fulfillment in Jesus. In many places in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus seems to be presented as the New Moses: the new Law Giver and the giver of a new law of love. Jesus is the one who was foretold by all the prophets: the redeemer of Israel. Among all the prophets of the Hebrew tradition, Elijah’s presence has special significance. According to the First Book of Kings, Elijah did not die but left this earth in a fiery chariot. The last words of the Book of the Prophet Malachi indicate that Elijah will return to usher in the Messianic age. Thus Jesus in the presence of Elijah shows that the fulfilment of God’s promise has come in Jesus.

Another significant detail of this gospel reading is the fact that the Transfiguration takes place on a mountaintop (Roman Catholic tradition names it Mount Tabor). In both the Jewish tradition as well as many ancient non-biblical religions, the mountaintop is special place of encounter with God. Peter, James and John are invited to go up the mountain with Jesus because it is there that they will see the glory of God revealed in Jesus. He wants to give them a glimpse of his glory as God in order to prepare them to face his upcoming suffering and death. At this point in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus has “turned his face toward Jerusalem.” He has warned his disciples of his impending death and resurrection. He will resolutely proceed to his self-offering on the cross on behalf of humankind. So not only does he tell his disciples that the cross is in his future and theirs, but he also shows them what lies on the other side of the cross: resurrection and new life. The Transfiguration is thereby linked to the Resurrection of the Lord. The revelation that takes place at the Transfiguration is a prophetic revelation of who Jesus is: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-please; listen to him.” The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a confirmation of what the revelation at the Transfiguration declared.

The reaction of the disciples is significant: they are filled with fear and awe. Faced with the full reality of the identity of Jesus, they fall down in worship, just as any person who has encountered the Lord God. But Jesus tells them: “Rise, you have nothing to fear.” That is a resurrection message. The word “rise” that is used here is the same word used to describe the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of all believers on the last day. Those who truly know Jesus as both human and divine have no need to fear. Placing all one’s trust and confidence in him banishes all fear.

The Lenten season invites to come to know Jesus better. We are invited to encounter Jesus both as our brother in the human family as well as our divine Lord. He is the source of our hope in the face of struggles. He is the promised one who fulfils God’s promise to us. As long as we remain close to him, we need not fear.

- Fr. Ron M. Bagley, CJM


Lord Jesus, through your cross and resurrection, you have made us sharers in your divinity even as you made our humanity your own. Grant that we may come to the fullness of living the unity of our human and divine nature in your name, and so begin to live as true sons and daughters of our Father, bound as one through the Spirit of Love. Amen.

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