The Lenten period is typically a journey of faith. Last Sunday, our Lord Jesus Christ conquered the three-fold temptations of the devil in the desert, and today we see our Lord at the peak of the mountain where he had an experience of transfiguration in the presence of three of his apostles. Why is the theme of transfiguration very important for our reflection during this season of Lent, and why is it coming immediately after the narrative of our Lord triumph over the devil’s temptations?
The First Reading (Gen. 12:1-4a) tells us about the call of Abram. God asked him to leave his kinsfolk and his father’s house to a land He will show him. God also added promises of making him a great nation and blessing him. The reading ended by saying that “Abram went as the Lord directed him.” In the Second Reading (2 Tim.1:8b-10), St. Paul tells us that God has saved us and called us to be holy.
The Gospel today tells us that Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain, and before them, he was transfigured. Transfiguration means a change in figure. In the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, his face shone like the Sun and his clothes became as white as light. Our Lord’s change in his figure was so overwhelming for the three apostles to the extent that Peter exclaimed:
Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make tree tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.
Transfiguration and the Journey towards Change
Heraclitus, an ancient philosopher, said that nobody could step in the same river twice; hence change is a constant in life. When God called Abram out from his kinsfolk and his father’s house, he was inviting him to embrace a move that would transform his life and the lives of his descendants. When our Lord Jesus Christ asked Peter, James, and John to come up with him to the mountain, he was asking them to come and experience a location and physical change.
The Lenten season will become worthless if we do not go through the process of change. Notice that in the narrative, the transfiguration did not happen until our Lord Jesus Christ and the three apostles reached the peak of the mountain, and our Lord committed himself to prayers. Here we notice that the transfiguration happened at the right place and moment; during the time of prayers.
The Lenten period invites us to change our positions from the familiar grounds to the place of prayer and divine encounter. Leaving one’s kinsfolks and father’s house to an indefinite location is not easy; neither is it easy to climb a huge mountain. These are indications that the Lenten period takes us through a process that would finally bring us to an encounter of God’s glory.
Notice also that our Lord was transfigured while encountering God in prayer. Jesus did not take the three disciples to the mountain for the fun of it; it was a journey into prayers. “Pray without ceasing,” our Lord would often admonish (Luke 18:1), and St. Paul would also give the Thessalonians the same instruction (I Thess. 5:17).
Our Lord’s transfiguration further tells us that our prayers should not change God (He is unchangeable) but they are for our transformation. Jesus was transfigured while he was praying; our prayers should be able to change something about us.
Moving Forward: “It is good that we are here!”
The best place to be is in God’s transforming presence. Can anyone of us repeat this honest confession of Peter this Lenten season? Do you feel that the Lenten season is taking a lot away from you? Are you fasting and fighting? Are you at peace with the demands of the season, by abstaining from sin and committing your life to prayers?
Let us follow the Lord to climb the Lenten mountain, and by his grace, we shall reach the peak and receive the desirable transfiguration from our disfigurement of sin (Isaiah 1:6). As we march into the second week of Lent, may we pay attention to God’s call that would take us to the location of divine encounter for total transfiguration. God bless you.