FIRST READING Genesis 12:1-4a
The LORD said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.” Abram went as the LORD directed him.
SECOND READING 2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
GOSPEL Matthew 17:1-9
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
The transfiguration of Jesus is one of the great mysteries of our faith. We are not entirely sure what happened at that point, but we do know that Jesus changed in front of His disciples in a way that they could sense the power of God flowing through Him. The voice that they hear confirms that this is something from heaven and confirms the role of Jesus and the reality of Jesus as Son of God.
Jesus is the Son and Abram is also a son of God in the first reading, from Genesis. God promises to Abram that he will become a great nation. As with so many promises of God, the reality is greater and feels different from what people might have expected.
The second reading, from the Second Letter to Timothy, gives us another insight: He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus. So often we are tempted to think that we must become holy, but rather it is God who makes us holy. For sure, we must cooperate. That is our work.
This brings us back to the Gospel from Matthew. It is almost impossible for us to imagine the effect of the transfiguration on the three Apostles, Peter. James and John. We can say truly that they were out of their minds! But out of their minds and into faith in Jesus.
We are invited today to go out of our minds and trust completely in the Lord. Let us walk these days of Lent so that we may share in the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord. Jesus.
Your brother in the Lord,
Abbot Emeritus Philip