top of page
Purple Podiums

Breaking Open the Word

2nd Sunday of Lent

March 5, 2023

Gradient Background
00:00 / 00:38


As you gaze upon a bright, radiant light what feelings are ignited deep within you? In our Gospel today, we reflect upon Jesus' Transfiguration. Jesus went up to a high mountain, that place of contact with God, and was transfigured in the presence of His three disciples: Peter, James, and John. "His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became dazzling white" (Matthew 17:3) What does this event mean and why does the Church ask us to meditate upon it so often?

Gradient Background
00:00 / 02:21

Gospel Explained

The story of Jesus’ Transfiguration is told in all three of the synoptic Gospels. Frequently, during the liturgical year our readings proclaim this incredible event. St. Thomas Aquinas devotes an entire section of his Summa Theologica to the Transfiguration. He provides great insights into this revelation. First, it was fitting for Christ to be manifested in His glory to His Apostles, because those who will walk the arduous path of discipleship need a clear sense of the goal of their journey. As we endure hardships and sufferings of this fallen world, we need to keep our eyes focused on the radiant glory of Christ that awaits us.

Second, what gives us such inspiration at the Transfiguration? The radiant light that shone from Jesus' face and figure. A resurrected body, St. Thomas says, has four distinct qualities: impassibility, it is beyond suffering; agility, it can move freely; subtlety, it is not obstructed by material obstacles; clarity, it shines.  Jesus shines with the radiance of heaven and we are entranced by His beauty and the prospect of our own beautiful transfiguration.

Third, consider the witnesses to this miraculous event: Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, and John. These figures represent the past and the present. Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the Prophets) and Jesus' Apostles (who will carry the Gospel to the world.)  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the new Moses. Jesus is not merely the greatest prophet; He is the divine Word made flesh. The salvation won by Christ transcends all time. The presence of Peter, James, and John represents the future.

Gradient Background
00:00 / 02:35

Today's Theme

Our Gospel writer, Matthew, tells us that the Transfiguration occurs 6 days after the Lord first spoke of His Passion to the disciples. The destination of our Lenten journey is clearly presented in today’s reading: the mystery of the Cross and the glory of the Risen Christ. Jesus’ final triumph is witnessed on the mountaintop by the Apostles. This gives hope for the journey that soon unfolds.

And why Peter, James, and John? Because they LOVED Jesus. They entered into a relationship of love with Him. Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?" And Peter answers "Yes, Lord." (John 21: 15-16) Peter loved Jesus the most. John is the one Jesus loved the most, often referred to in the Gospel of John as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 21:20) John truly loved Jesus and was loved by Him. Peter and John had fallen in love with the Lord. And James was the first to prove the intensity of his love for Jesus by giving his life. James was the first martyr of the Apostles, no greater test of love than this, to give one's life for the One you love.

The transfiguration reveals God fully present in Jesus. In a heartbeat, the face of Jesus revealed the Father's glory as the Son. More than any other part of the body, the face reveals a person through the words spoken and facial expressions. Here, however, Jesus did not simply reveal His mind, will, or character. He showed His disciples who the Father really was. The words Jesus spoke were the words of the Father. The love shown in the face of Jesus revealed the Father's love. Jesus and the Father were one because Jesus was truly the Father's Son. The voice from heaven affirmed Jesus as the revelation of the Father when it said: "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him." (John 17:5)

Gradient Background
00:00 / 01:41

Theme in our Life Today

Not only did the appearance of Jesus reveal the Father, but this moment of glory also revealed who the Father was. The God of Israel acted in the events of history. This moment of transfiguration would sum up all God had done with the appearance of Moses (who represented the Jewish Law) and Elijah (who represented the prophets). Since "the Law and the prophets" were code words for the Hebrew Bible, Moses the Law-giver and Elijah the Prophet were living, breathing Scripture. Because Jesus stood with the two men, He stood at the core of the Bible's revelation. All of Scripture focused upon Jesus. This moment revealed the Father acting through Jesus. This moment revealed Jesus as God's chosen, the Messiah.

The LOVE of God was made present in the person of Jesus, His only Son. The disciples present were recipients of this great love and chose to return this LOVE with all their hearts. The Transfiguration of our Lord extends an invitation to me. Have I experienced the loving gaze of God through Jesus, my Lord and Savior? I have chosen to return this love by giving Christ my heart, mind, soul, and strength. This is the call of all disciples. A call of love. When love is received and returned, it blossoms into a radiant light. Do I reflect Jesus’ light to the world?

Gradient Background
00:00 / 00:29

Prepare for Sunday

  • As I endure hardships and suffering, do I keep my eyes focused on the eternal glory that awaits me?

  • Have I received fully the love of God into my heart?

  • How have I responded to God’s love? Lent is a time of reawakening that calls me into relationship with Christ and then into action for Him.

bottom of page