Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Lent (Year C)
Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
A good story tells what happened, why, when, where, and who? However, there is another element of a story that you cannot see immediately, which is the story’s morale (lesson). The transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ is a typical narrative that contains all these essential ingredients, including the morale.
In the Transfiguration account of St. Luke (Luke 9:28b-36), Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John (representing who?) to the mountain (representing where?), to pray (representing why?). The rest of the story would tell us the successive events (what happened).
As Jesus was praying, his face changed in appearance, and his clothing became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, showed up and started conversing with the Lord. Luke tells us that they discussed Jesus’ departure that would be fulfilled at Jerusalem.
Peter and his mates woke up to behold the exceptional sight. Not thinking, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Peter was still speaking when an ominous cloud overshadowed them. Then came a voice that said: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice, the entire vision ended.
The Morale of the Transfiguration
The big lesson about the transfiguration of Jesus as an important narrative during the season of Lent Season is the transforming power of prayer. Let us look at it this way, the purpose of scaling mount Tabor was to pray. Therefore, the location functions to create the necessary prayer ambiance that resonates with the season.
The transfiguration was the resultant effect of the intense and committed prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can say that without the prayers of Jesus, Moses and Elijah would have no business showing up at mount Tabor. Furthermore, the voice of the Father confirming the Son would have been impossible.
Climbing the Mountain of Prayer: A Lenten Exercise
The Lenten prayer journey has the semblance of climbing a mountain. One thing Jesus shares with Moses and Elijah is a mountaintop experience. Moses was with God at Mount Sinai for forty days and nights (Exo. 24:18). Elijah made a forty-day-and-night journey to meet God at Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8). Of course, we know that Jesus ministered and prayed a lot on the mountain.
Recalling the experience of our Lord Jesus Christ at the peak of Mount Tabor, we understand that our prayer exercise should first transform us; in other words, the essence of our prayer during this season and beyond is that we are changed or transfigured. Remember that the transfiguration preceded the heavenly vision and the voice of the Father confirming the Son’s ministry.
Today, the First Reading tells us about the covenant between the Lord God and Abram (Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18). A careful reading of the passage shows that it was at the moment the fire of God passed through the sacrifice and after Abram waited from dawn to sunset that the covenant was sealed.
Prayer involves an intentional attitude of waiting on God’s time and looking up to divine touch for eternal values. St. Paul assures us in the letter to the Philippians (3:17-4:1) that our Lord Jesus Christ will change (transfigure) our lowly body to conform with his glorified (transfigured) body by the power that enables him to bring all things to his subjection.
Moving Forward: From Prayer Life to Life of Prayer
When God created humankind in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), He designed relational network access which only prayer can activate. So, without prayers, we have no connection with God. You can now understand why Jesus said that we ought to pray always and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). The emphasis here is on persistence in prayer having a prayer life.
Now, a prayer life refers to a life characterized largely by moments of committed prayers. The life of Jesus on earth remains a perfect example of an unwavering prayer life. However, a prayer life becomes productive when there is a corresponding life of prayer.
A life of prayer refers to the evident fruits of our prayers in our lives. Fruits, not in terms of results, but the sense of the virtues manifest in the life of the person who has a prayer life. Put in another way; we become whom we pray to when we persist in prayers.
The Lenten significance of the transfiguration means that we should come out of the Lenten period reshaped and transformed spiritually. It means our prayer life should enable us to attain a transformed life.
To summarize, the morale of the transfiguration narrative is that we should keep praying until we are transformed from every disfiguration and distortion. Praying is not reducible to obtaining material favors but that significant change that can open the heavens for us to receive the divine confirmation of our place in the heart of God our Father.