The Transfiguration As What Lent is All About.
Genesis 12:1-4 , 2 Timothy 1:8-10, Matthew 17:1-9.
There was a story of a little girl whose name was Chikaodi. As small as she is, she always follows her mother to church activities. She loves everything about the church, Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In any liturgical program, Chikaodi will always put on her best clothes.
She loves to appear neat amongst her peers.
Before Ash Wednesday, the mother has already told her about the Lenten season and how the priest places the ash on their faces with the sign of the cross.
The young girl was eager to witness this for the first time in her life. On the day of Ash Wednesday, little Chikoadi accompanied her mother to the celebrations of Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of the Lenten season.
During the mass, ashes were placed on their faces and little Chikaodi was very happy to be part of this celebration.
When they came back home, the young girl rushed to the mirror to view her face. She saw the ash marked with the cross on her face, immediately, she shouted “Oh mum, I love the cross, but the cross has transformed and changed my face”.
The mother laughed and replied, “My baby, this shows that you are now in the lenten period, you must change”.
This little story captures everything about the lenten season. The Lenten season is a time of change, a season we must be transformed. The transformation and encounter we are having in this lenten season is already a sign of the season we are in.
The transfiguration experience of Jesus today is all about change and transformation, and this is actually what the Lenten season is all about. Therefore, in today’s reflection, we shall do a thorough analysis of the transfiguration experience of our Lord Jesus and how it reveals to us what the lenten season is all about.
I have reflected on the transfiguration several times but in today’s reflection we have to reflect on a different aspect of today’s reading, then I will link the other reflections here, for us to have a full understanding of the transfiguration of Jesus.
Our aim in today’s reflection is to reveal to us how the transfiguration experience teaches us what the lent is all about.
From the Meaning of Transfiguration.
From the oxford online dictionary, transfiguration is simply a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.
It comes from the Greek word metemorphothe. We have to note that it is from this etymology that we derive the word metamorphosis.
Therefore, transfiguration indicates that life was metamorphosed. It indicates that there was a complete change of appearance of Jesus, from his normal appearance or state to a more sublime state.
In the same way, the lenten season is specifically a time of life metamorphosis. It is a moment of life transformation.
We can never wholeheartedly undergo this Lenten season and spiritual journey and remain the same. Our lives will change and the level of our spirituality will increase, then our spiritual life will be transformed from what it used to be, to a more sublime state of holiness.
The major aim of the Lenten journey is for us to transform our sinful loves into a more sublime state. This is the first lesson about what lent is all about.
Lent is A Time of Retreat.
A retreat is simply a time of moving back or withdrawing. It is normally used by the military to withdraw from war or their enemy forces, especially after a defeat.
During the retreat, we withdraw from the world or the crowd to a quiet place, to converse with God and find out where we make mistakes and correct them.
During this time, we move to a quiet and isolated place to think about our lives and seek more avenues to come closer to God.
Before the transfiguration today, we shall discover that Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. Matthew was so emphatic that Jesus took them where they should be alone.
To offer them the opportunity to fully experience the transfiguration of Jesus, Jesus withdrew them from the crowd. This certainly reveals to us what the Lenten season is all about.
It is not a time to continue wallowing in our sinful lives, but rather a time to withdraw and ask ourselves serious questions.
This is a time to withdraw from the noisy world, from the misleading friends, from those peer groups who always lead astray, and from family divisions.
It is a time to retreat and find out where we have made mistakes. This is the time to find out what we did not do well so that we shall correct it.
As the apostles did this to witness the transfiguration experience, we have to do the same during this Lenten season to fully change and transform our lives.
A Time of Divine Encounter.
During the transfiguration, as the face of Jesus shines like the sun and his clothes become as white as the light, suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him.
Jesus is the Word made Flesh. Jesus fulfils the law and the words of the prophets. The presence of Moses (represents the law), and Elijah (the prophets) confirms this.
Moses also represents the patriarchs while Elijah represents the prophets. It was a great encounter for the apostles of Jesus Christ. Here, at the mountain, there was an encounter between heaven and the earth.
This reveals what the lenten season is all about. It is a time of special encounters with God. It is time we have an encounter with heavenly realities. During this time, we must be in a close relationship with God.
2. Secondly, while Peter was still speaking, “A bright cloud overshadowed them…”. We remember in the book of Exodus how the people were led by the cloud (Ex 13:11ff) This cloud accompanied the Israelites through the long and strenuous journey the people made in the desert.
We also remember the cloud on Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:16, when the people had an encounter with God. Therefore, the cloud signifies a total encounter with God and His graces upon the people.
In the old testament, the cloud always comes with God’s encounter to save the people. Therefore, it is a moment of grace and mercy of God.
This is also what the Lenten season is all about. The Lenten season is a time of grace, a time of spiritual encounter and love. Let us always be part of lent.
The Longer We Encounter A Person.
Sometimes it takes more time to get to know a person unless we truly have a close encounter with the person. The longer we stay or encounter the person, the better we know that person.
The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ happened after Jesus rebuked Peter for thinking that He would never experience suffering. It happened because the apostles have not come to full knowledge about Jesus Christ.
Therefore, it took the apostles some special moments of encounter like the transfiguration, resurrection and the Pentecost experience to fully understand the personality and mission of Jesus Christ. They began to know Jesus better when Jesus revealed His divinity through the transfiguration.
Other experiences like the Last Supper, agony, Passion, death and resurrection and Pentecost experience helped them to come to a full knowledge of Jesus Christ.
It is the same for us. Like the transfiguration experience, the Lenten experience helps us to gradually grow in the knowledge of Jesus.
The Lenten experience offers us the opportunity to truly know God. When we truly understand God, we always have the hunger to approach His presence often.
A Time to Listen to Jesus.
During the baptism of Jesus Christ, verse 10 of Mark Chapter 1 says that as Jesus was coming out of the water, he saw the heaven torn open. Then a voice from heaven says “this is my beloved Son”
So, there was a voice from heaven during the baptism but it seems Jesus alone heard this voice and only him saw when the heaven opened. But during the transfiguration, this voice is heard by the disciples as well. And the voice happened when Peter was speaking.
While Peter was speaking, the voice came and cut off what Peter was saying and then the voice said listen to Jesus.
Therefore, the voice on the mountain indicates that Jesus is the One we must listen to. Peter said in John 6:68, ‘to whom shall we go, for only Jesus has the word of eternal life.
In the Gospel, the Father speaks to us “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”. This is exactly what Lent is all about. It is a time to pay attention to the gospel.
This is a time we have to listen to Jesus. It is not a time to keep listening to things that will draw us away from God, but rather a time to read the word of God often.
The Lenten season is a time to study the word of God deeply. Therefore, we need to give God sufficient time to speak to us, rather than wasting time on social media.
A Time of Total Transfiguration.
In the gospel, when Jesus transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. His appearance changed and he became as dazzling as white. This appearance shows the divinity, holiness and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, Jesus through this experience is teaching us that this is the time to transform our lives into one that is more sublime, more divine and more holy. We need to aspire to live a life without stain, a life that is dazzling in charity, holiness and love of God.
This is a time to transform from our past and evil lives to one that is loving. A time to change from envy and jealousy to one filled with love and peace. This is what the lenten season is all about.
1. When the apostles heard the voice on the mountain, they fell on their faces, filled and overcome with fear.
Then, Jesus came up and touched them. When he touched them, he said to them ‘Stand up,’ and do not be afraid.’
Many times we are filled with moments of fear, and moments of anxiety over the future.
In the moments of our fear, we need to be encouraged by the constant presence of God, His divine touch and His word of encouragement.
He did not tell the disciples to stay down and continue in fear, rather His word to them is “stand up”. It means to rise from their slumber, fear and whatever is keeping them down.
Therefore, in this lenten season, Jesus is also asking us to rise again. We do not have to remain on the ground. We do not have to remain in sin, fear and apprehension. Rather, we have to come back to life. This is what the lenten season is all about.
2. During the transfiguration, Peter does not understand what he is saying. He says to Jesus “it is good that we are here”.
Peter was simply talking out human emotion. He continues until the voice from heaven says “Listen to Him”.
Therefore, we cannot always remain under the dictatorship of emotions. We do not allow ourselves to be ruled by our emotions. This will always make us fall back to sin.
Rather, we have to see the word of God as our guide. At that time when you are tempted to be ruled by the spirit of anger, immorality, jealousy, envy etc, remember what Jesus says to you. Let His word be our guide always.
3. The appearance of Elijah and Moses, who once lived on earth is an attestation that there is an afterlife. Also, through the transfiguration experience, Jesus reveals to us the glory that is awaiting us as children of God.
Therefore, let us not live as if the world will never end. Let us not live as if there is nothing like judgment or the afterlife. We have to understand that life does not end here. So, as we prepare for our lives here, let us not forget to prepare for the life that is to come.
4. As Peter, James and John encountered the divinity of Jesus, their attitudes to Jesus must have been transformed just as they saw Jesus was transformed. We could say that is what Lent is all about.
It is a time we have to transform ourselves so that we can see Jesus more clearly. In this Lenten season, we have to examine our lives to see where we stand before God, make peace with Him and unite with one another.
5. Let us change from the filthy things we do and be focused. For our nature to be transformed, especially in this season, we need Jesus the true light.
In the first reading, God tells Abraham, ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing.
Abraham did not doubt God. He did not ask Him how he is to have fared, who will provide for him etc, rather he went as the Lord told him. Therefore, in this lenten season, obedience to the word of God should be our aspiration.
This is what lent is all about. We have to read and internalize His words. In this Lenten Season let us follow Him with love and obedience.
5. Finally, this does not mean that after the lenten season, we go back to our former lives. We need to keep going. The Lenten season serves only as a reminder and an activator that inspires us to rise and change our lives.
Happy Sunday and God bless you.
Read the past Reflections Below
To Undergo Transfiguration: 2nd Sunday of Lent Year B
The Transfiguration Experience: A Foretaste of the Future Glory Year C