My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We are still at the beginning of Lent — this special time in the liturgy of the Church. In the words of Pope Francis, a time of “renewal for the whole Church.” For each community and every believer. Above all, Pope Francis says, it is a “time of a grace.”
It is, indeed, a time for a change of heart that is shown in our daily lives to the words to prayer, penance, and works of mercy.
Every Lent, as we know, begins the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. And every year, on the second Sunday of Lent, we hear the Gospel story of the Transfiguration.
Our Christian life is a journey of conversion, of transfiguration. That’s what our liturgy proposes to us in this second Sunday of Lent.
In the beautiful scene of the transfiguration, we see what every heart longs to see. He was transfigured before them, St. Mark says,
His face shone like the sun
then, from the cloud came a voice that said:
“This is my beloved son, listen to him”
In the transfiguration, we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus. And for one brief moment, we see our destiny and the path we are meant to follow in our lives.
The transfiguration is a sign of Jesus’ resurrection. And his transfiguration is a promise of our own resurrection.
So, in a sense today, what the Church is asking us to do is to look at Jesus and to listen to Jesus.
St. Leo the Great says that the principle aim of the transfiguration was to banish from the disciples’ souls the scandal of the Cross.
So today, we have a two-fold lesson for our consideration. On the one hand, the need for courage — to follow Jesus and to be faithful to our vocation. And then, in the other hand, the fact that we need to trust God completely.
It was challenging for Abraham in today’s first reading — as we heard God put Abraham to the test. He was asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. And he’s willing to do it our of faith. He put his whole faith and trust in God and his promises.
And as we also heard in today’s first reading, he was rewarded for his faithfulness.
I know how devoted you are to God
Since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son
So, my brothers and sisters, like Abraham, we need to remain faithful and obedient, confident in trust, as we embark ourselves into this time of prayer, penance, and works of mercy – we do it trusting in God.
This is also the message in today’s passage of the Gospel. As we probably remember, after the conversation in Sicily-Philippi, Jesus talked to the Apostles about his passion and death on the Cross, he knew that the Apostles were confused and discouraged.
Then, he takes Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves and he was transfigured before them.
They couldn’t believe it! They were so happy. St. Peter tells Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
This is a beautiful message, my dear brothers and sisters, Jesus is with us too. And he is the only one we need.
So our reaction today, as we contemplate and reflect on the transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, must be the same as the Apostles — totally happiness. Because we know that Jesus is with us all the time, especially when we are afraid or when we are suffering.
He is with us when sometimes we cannot feel God’s presence or his love. He is with us when we are having difficulty finding purpose in our lives.
And if Jesus is with us, as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading of today’s Mass, if God is for us, who can be against us?
So today, let us ask for the grace to always follow the example of Abraham who trusted in God. The example of the Apostles, who also trusted in God.
We have to build the foundation of our lives on a deep trust in the one who never stops loving us. If God is for us, who can be against us.
I’m sure that the Apostles never forgot the moment of the transfiguration. It was a real confirmation of the divinity of Jesus Christ and I’m sure that, in the moments of stress or discouragement, they went back to that moment, with their imagination and memory.
So let us ask for the grace to always keep in mind, no matter what, that God is with us.
And last night, I had a beautiful celebration for the young men and women who are in the process of formation in religious orders here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. We had about 100 of them coming to an event last night. It was beautiful.
And for me, it was a moment of grace, especially seeing the action of the grace of God in the souls of those young men and women, who are committing themselves to trust in God, one hundred percent and were looking at Jesus and listening to Jesus in a special way. Dedicating their lives to God and to the service of the people of God in their religious orders in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
My brothers and sisters, that’s what our Christian life is all about — trusting in God and daring to commit ourselves to try to be as faithful as possible in our personal lives.
So, today, let us ask for the grace to be especially attentive to the voice of Jesus. Keeping in mind that the transfiguration reveals to us the mystery of the Holy Trinity’s love for us, and the constant presence of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in our lives.
And let’s remember that God the Father tell us to listen to Jesus, and let’s do it. We need to allow God’s grace to work in our lives. So we need to open our hearts, more and more, so we can know and imitate the life of Jesus.
So let us continue this Lenten season with the intensity and enthusiasm of the Apostles. We’ll do it through our daily prayers, our attendance at Mass, and those small attempts that we all are making to reach out to so many people out there that are in need.
Let’s make this time really a time, a special time, of grace. And let us never forgot that God our Father has given us his own beloved Son to be with us, to teach us, and to intercede for us.
Let us ask Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, to help us to listen to Jesus’ words and to follow his example so that on our earthly pilgrimages — our lives — may we transfigured by the light of his presence. And that we can be faithful missionary disciples, bringing the life and the teachings of Jesus Christ to the people of our time.
1. Readings (Second Sunday of Lent, Year B): Gen. 22:1-2; Ps. 116:10, 15, 16, 17, 18-19; Rom. 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10.