Skip to content

Transfiguration and the Second Sunday of Lent : Wholly Fire and Wholly Light

By Deacon Keith Fournier
2/24/2013 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Just as the body of the Lord was glorified on the mountain when it was transfigured in the glory of God and in infinite light, so the bodies of the saints will be glorified and shine like lightning.

The struggle we engage is about turning away from sin. But it is also about turning toward the total transformation of the integrated human person. It will only be complete in the Resurrection of our Bodies. However, it begins now. It is not accidental that the Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent was the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert (Lk. 4:1-13) and the Gospel of the Second is the Transfiguration on the mountain. They are connected.

The Transfiguration of the Lord

The Transfiguration of the Lord

P>CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - On the Second Sunday of Lent, I read these words from the Holy Gospel at Mass. It is Cycle C so I proclaim the account of the Transfiguration from the Gospel of St. Luke (Lk. 9: 28b - 36):

"Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him."

"As they were about to part from him, 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." But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen."

Every year I am asked the question: Why, on the second Sunday of Lent does the Church offer us an account of the Transfiguration?  The inclusion of this account is an ancient liturgical practice. We also hear the account proclaimed on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Whether during Lent or on its own Feast, the Gospel account is meant to focus us on the "end" of the Christian life and our own vocation."End" in the philosophical and theological sense means purpose or goal.

We will all be transfigured, as the Lord Himself was transfigured, when our redemption is complete in the Resurrection of the Body. Then, we will live, in the new heaven and new earth, in the fullness of the Communion of Love. This reality is meant to affect the way we live our lives - beginning right now. It also helps us understand one of the purposes of undertaking our ascetical practices during these forty days.

In the Eastern Christian Churches, Orthodox and Catholic, the First Week of the Great Lent is called Clean Week. The focus of the week is to enter fully into the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving with fervor. It is setting the pace for the forty days by running the first lap with vigorous effort. Strict fasting is encouraged, along with frequent prayer and almsgiving.

The intensity of the first week is intended to cultivate the proper disposition needed to achieve the desired end of the forty days of Lent, ongoing conversion of life reflected in a new way of living. Our freedom was fractured by sin. The way it can be healed is through the application of the Splint of the Cross. However, that cross must be embracedl.

The call goes out to clean house, to be rid of all sin and entanglements which hold us back from reclaiming the freedom the Lord desires for each one of us. In fact, in many Orthodox and Eastern Catholic communities the actual houses of believers are cleaned and stripped of excess, a symbol of the interior dynamic of the week and the very essence of Lent. 

During the forty days of Lent we called to enter into a holy struggle against our disordered passions and weaknesses so that we can become more fitting vessels for the life and light of God to dwell within, making us new.  

Eastern Christians have retained some of the more austere practices and customs which were a part of the ancient practices of the early Church. However, all of the lenten practices focus us on the effect of our disordered passions and appetites. They expose the division within us - and around us. All of this is the result of sin and its lingering effects. The Church as mother and teacher invites us into a spiritual battle to strengthen us.

The struggle we engage is about turning away from sin. But it is also about turning toward the total transformation of the integrated human person.It will only be complete in the Resurrection of our Bodies. However, it begins now. It is not accidental that the Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent was the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert (Lk. 4:1-13) and the Gospel of the Second is the Transfiguration on the mountain. They are connected.

An ancient homily reminds us "Just as the body of the Lord was glorified on the mountain when it was transfigured in the glory of God and in infinite light, so the bodies of the saints will be glorified and shine like lightning. "The glory which you have given me I have given to them" (John 17:22). As countless candles are lighted from a single flame, so the bodies of all Christ's members will be what Christ is. Our human nature is transformed into the fullness of God; it becomes wholly fire and light" (Pseudo-Macarius, 15th homily)  

From the earliest centuries, the Church emphasized the centrality of the Transfiguration of the Lord in the Christian life and the plan of God for the whole human race. Our experience of our life in the Lord now is only the beginning of what is to come in the kingdom. However, our life is already a participation in that new reality, right now. The Church, in the words of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, is a "seed of the kingdom" to come. Our life within the Church is actually a participation in the eternal realities of the life to come in a new heaven and a new earth.

Our second reading from St Paul's letter to the Philippians (Phil.3:17 - 4:1) this Sunday is also important. Paul warns those in the early Christian community who had failed to remain vigilant in their faith. He says their "end is destruction.Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. Their minds are occupied with earthly things." He then reminds the Christians of the early Church - and us - that "our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself."
 
The Transfiguration account on this Second Sunday of Lent invites us to reflect on what this means for us. This event on the Mountain was meant to strengthen the faith of these three disciples. They were about to witness the events that would lead their Lord and Master along what would appear to be an ignominious path, up Golgotha´s lonely hill, to be crucified, a fate reserved for common criminals. Their own faith would be shaken, tested and tried. These three would also be with him in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26:36 ff) He loved those who were His own in this world (John 13:1). And, as many beautiful writings in the Tradition remind us, the Lord wanted to encourage them - and to encourage us - on that Mountain of Transfiguration.

However, this One who came from eternity and took upon Himself the limitations of time, was about to open the portal of eternity which would never again be closed to those with eyes to see. He would reveal to Peter, James and John the eternal now of His own glory. He was doing more than encouraging them. He was showing them who He was - and who they would become in Him. He was revealing to them what had already begun; and giving them a vision that would forever change the way they viewed themselves, their daily lives and their mission, after He would return to the Father.

As they learned to live their lives no longer for themselves but for Him they also began to undergo their own trials and walk the way to their own transfiguration up Golgotha's Hill. This is the path of all who bear His name Christian and carry forward the redemptive mission of Jesus as members of His Body. We entered through the waters of the womb of Holy Baptism into the life of the Church - which is His Body. We are now in process, works in progress. We are being re-created and transfigured in Him. He has brought heaven to earth and earth to heaven, through the Paschal mystery. We live in Him, bridging them both.

On that Mountain, Jesus revealed before mortal eyes the Transcendent Truth of who He is - and who Peter, James and John ...and each one of us - will become in Him. They were invited to exercise their freedom and embrace the path that He had prepared. So are we, right now. He was grounding them in the eternal Truth, and opening up for the countless millions who would hear this story from their faithful witness a glimpse of the Glory that is to come as we also choose Him in our daily lives.

Peter would later write of this experience: "His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love...."

"We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, "This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain." (2 Peter 1)

The Christian is called to a "participation in the Divine Nature." (2 Peter 1:4) which begins now. We are being transfigured in Christ as we cooperate with God's grace. This transfiguration will be complete when our entire person, including our body, is fully redeemed and transformed. The effects of the transfiguration involve the entire created order as well. It will finally be reconstituted in Jesus Christ and handed back to the Father. The followers of Jesus, the Transfigured One, now walk in His Way and are being transformed into His likeness, to shine as lights in a world steeped in darkness.

The Beloved Disciple John used this event of the Transfiguration as a "hermeneutic", a lens through which he gave the early Christians a deeper insight into their difficulties, struggles and mission in the context of our progressive transformation. In his first Letter to the early Churches, he encouraged them to persevere and live differently by referring to the event that occurred on that Mountain. He encouraged them to not be surprised or discouraged that the "world" did not recognize them, but rather to persevere in love through holding the vision of a transfigured life before them:

"See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure." (1 John 3)

The Lord Jesus has also shown us the way up the mountain. He has invited us into a new way of living in Him through living within the communion of the Church. Living in that Church we are invited to go into the world and invite all men and women, through the waters of the womb of Baptism, into the new communion of love where they can begin the process of conversion and transfiguration. Born again, we are all invited to join with Peter, James and John and cry out in our day: "It is good for us to be here."

As we reflect on the Transfiguration of Jesus on this Second Sunday of Lent, let us enter into the mystery by living in the Transfiguration now. It truly is good for us to be here. Let us draw encouragement from the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ and respond to the invitations of grace in our daily lives in order to grow more fully into the Image and likeness of Jesus Christ our Savior.

We are invited to reveal His Transfigured glory to a world waiting to be born anew. Our Lenten observance is an invitation into an ongoing transformation in Jesus Christ. It is a call to become -  Wholly Fire and Light! It begins even now.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for OCTOBER 2017
Workers and the Unemployed.
That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.


Comments



More Lent & Easter


'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'

Luke 24:46

Lent Event

Importance

Ash Wednesday

March 1, 2017

Image of Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting... continue reading

Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017

Image of Palm Sunday Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels... continue reading

Holy Week

April 9 - 15, 2017

Image of Holy Week On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by... continue reading

Holy Thursday

April 13, 2017

Image of Holy Thursday Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover... continue reading

Good Friday

April 14, 2017

Image of Good Friday On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week... continue reading

Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017

Image of Easter Sunday Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I calls it the greatest feast, and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter... continue reading

Stations of the Cross

Every Friday

Image of Stations of the Cross Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion... continue reading

Fasting and Abstinence

Every Friday

Image of Fasting and Abstinence For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the... continue reading

Image of What did you give up for Lent? From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year... continue reading

Ascension of Our Lord

Thursday May 25, 2017

Image of Ascension of Our Lord The Ascension of Our Lord, a Holy Day of Obligation, celebrates the day that Christ, in the presence of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven. The Ascension occurred on the 40th day of Easter, a Thursday... continue reading

Pentecost

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Image of Pentecost Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and Corinthians (16:8)... continue reading

Image of Lent FAQ's Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple... continue reading

Mardi Gras

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Image of Mardi Gras In France, the people feasted on foods that would be given up during the forty days of Lent. Meats, eggs, and milk were finished off in one day, giving the holiday its French title of 'Mardi Gras' which means Fat Tuesday... continue reading

Image of Transformed by Easter The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community... continue reading

Image of Appearances He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. - Matthew 28:6. Learn more about the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ... continue reading

Image of Easter Gifts CatholicShopping.com offers a variety of Easter gifts & Easter treats for all ages! Choose a gift for someone special and celebrate the joy of Easter... continue reading

Easter / Lent News

Inspire: Easter Beyond the Octave. Why Do We Celebrate for Fifty Days?

Image of Christ my hope is risen, and he goes before you into Galilee.

While Easter is a Solemnity and an octave feast, it is also a 50 day season until Pentecost.The Season of Easter is not just about His ... continue reading


Reflecting on the Resurrection: Why did Jesus Rise with Wounds?

Image of The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths point to us that Jesus is physically alive.  His crucified body has been transformed.  What lesson is he teaching us by keeping his wounds intact?

What lesson is the Lord teaching us by keeping his wounds intact? Perhaps we can better answer this question by turning to our own wounds. ... continue reading


I Am Dismas and This Is My Story

Image of

As a teenager I ran into someone who introduced me to the finer points of the occupation. We fell into the tried and proven method of ... continue reading


HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence Watch

Image of The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence ... continue reading


On the Friday We Call Good, the Whole World Stands Still Watch

Image of

Today as we contemplate the Passion we also plumb the mystery and meaning of the Church. We are members of His Body. She was born ... continue reading


The Lent and Easter Season... by CatholicOnline.shopping

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.