Genesis 12:1-4a, 2 Timothy 1:8b-10, Matthew 17:1-9
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Now, a week and a half into Lent, we may be feeling like Peter on the season’s second Sunday: “Lord, it is good that we are here!” Perhaps we are genuinely grateful to be here this year in this joyful season of renewal, and we are catching glimpses already of a transfigured life. Or maybe our zeal for the Lenten disciplines taken up on Ash Wednesday is beginning to falter as we realize how far we still have to go; then the opportunity to pause for some encouragement with a transfigured Christ and a community of witnesses is immensely encouraging. We might recognize that sense of “here” as exactly where we most want to be. If instead, we’re still feeling a bit flat as we strive to settle into the season, possibly we just appreciate how good it would be if we were there. At the very least, a mountaintop climb with Jesus would provide some perspective on where we are with ourselves, with God, and with one another.
However, Lent may be going for us as individuals this year, we are already “ahead” of the momentous experience of Peter, James, and John at the transfiguration of Jesus because of our status as baptized members of Christ’s Body, the Church. With his temporary transfiguration, Jesus received reassurance through repetition of words he heard at his own baptism about his status as God’s beloved Son. He went down from that mountain to conquer death by his death and has now gone ahead of us. Jesus “destroyed death and brought life and immortality.” Now risen and glorified, Jesus the perpetually-transfigured one freely shares this life with us. On the day of our baptism, through God’s power over death and life, we came to share in Jesus’ status as beloved children of God, with the life of Christ and his Spirit now living and moving in us. We were freed from sin and death in the waters of baptism, clothed in a shining white garment, and entrusted with the light of Christ. The glory of God can now shine from our faces too.
Before we can fully claim the promise of risen, glorified, eternally-transfigured life ourselves though, we, like the disciples, are called to “Rise, and…not be afraid.” Wherever “here” is for us on the Second Sunday of Lent in the year of our Lord 2020, it would be best for us not to stay here but to continue growing into the fullness of the holy life to which God has called us. There is still hardship to bear for the Gospel. There are still communities that might find blessing — and perhaps even a transfiguring vision of hope — through us and God’s grace working in us. Lent is an excellent time for tuning our listening ears to the voice of Jesus still speaking in our lives, our Church, and our world. When our earthly mission is fulfilled, our hope now is not for a transitory tent where we can rest for a little while with the glorified Jesus but a seat in a banquet hall where we will feast with him forever.
Meanwhile, we pray to God (as in Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I):
Help us to work together for the coming of your Kingdom, until the hour when we stand before you, Saints among the Saints in the halls of heaven, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, the blessed Apostles and all the Saints, and with our deceased brothers and sisters, whom we humbly commend to your mercy. Then, freed at last from the wound of corruption and made fully into a new creation, we shall sing to you with gladness the thanksgiving of Christ, who lives for all eternity.
Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Peace and all good!
Fr. Valery Burusu