Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22; 2 Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9
First Reading: The first readings for the remaining Sundays of Lent are accounts of the blessings that God bestows on the chosen people. Today God directs Abram to leave his homeland and journey to a new land where God promises that great blessings will accompany him and his family.
Psalm 33: The psalmist sings with great praise of the attributes of the Lord who is trustworthy, just, and kind.
Second Reading: The second readings for the Sundays of Lent include various instructions and exhortations for the early Christians. In today’s passage, Paul reminds the “beloved” that their salvation has been won by Christ and not by any works that they have done.
Gospel: The account of the Transfiguration has all the marks of a biblical theophany, a self-revelation of God. The voice from the clouds, the fear of the bystanders and the mountain site are indications of a divine-human encounter.
Reflection: Are you listening? Listening for what? “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Are you listening for God’s will in your life?
Matthew’s narrative of the transfiguration of Jesus is rich in symbolism and meaning. There are implicit comparisons to Moses who also met God on a mountaintop and whose face shone after his meeting with God. Moses and Elijah, great men of God, appear in the vision. A voice from the clouds is a sign of God’s presence in a scene that is reminiscent of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism. But perhaps the most salient feature of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Transfiguration is that Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountaintop and when they left the mountain that day, his friends were beginning to sense that Jesus was no ordinary human being.
As they come down from the mountain, Jesus tells his disciples not to talk about what they have seen until after the Resurrection. Why the secrecy? Jesus knows that they do not understand, and will not understand until “the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Only from the perspective of the cross will the vision they have seen make sense.
By coming off the mountain, Jesus makes it clear that they must go back into the world. So, too, we are told to go out into the world without fear, carrying with us the glimpses of God that enrich our faith.
The radiance of the transfiguration of Jesus overwhelms the disciples and even makes the greatness of Moses and Elijah – symbols for the law and prophets – pale in comparison. Yet the call of God to us is the same as that to Abram and to Peter, James, and John: be willing to leave everything to go where God wills. Be willing to listen to Jesus, learn of his ways, and embrace his journey.
Our journey as disciples leads us to eternal glory – foreshadowed by Jesus’ transfiguration. This is worthy of any cost. In comparison to the glory that God offers us in Christ, the offering of our lives as disciples is puny in comparison; all we need to do is listen to Jesus.
Question for reflection: Am I listening for God’s call to discipleship? What prevents me from “listening”?