An Invitation to Transformation
On the second Sunday of Lent Luke gives the story of the Transfiguration, a story that can be found also in Mark and Matthew. It is important to be aware of where it comes in the Gospel account. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ prediction about his Passion. After the prediction there is a discussion of the cost of discipleship in each of these Gospels. The placement of the Transfiguration story close to Peter’s confession and Jesus’ prediction encourages us to examine the Transfiguration in the larger context of the Paschal Mystery. The Transfiguration occurs on a mountain in the presence of just three of Jesus’ disciples—Peter, James and John. As they awake, Peter and the disciples see Jesus Transfigured and Elijah and Moses present with Jesus. Elijah and Moses, both significant figures in the history of Israel, represent Jesus’ continuity with the Law and the Prophets.
In his Transfiguration, we see an anticipation of the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection. In each of the reports of the Transfiguration, the disciples keep secret what they have seen. Not until they also witness his Passion and death will the disciples understand Jesus’ Transfiguration. In our hearing of it, we anticipate Jesus’ Resurrection even as we prepare to remember Jesus’ Passion and death. The transformation or transfiguration of Jesus that the disciples experienced was not simply something they were to see and experience as happening to him alone. It was also an invitation for them to undergo a transformation and transfiguration of their own. It is also an invitation for us to undergo transformation. It means especially listening to those words which caused such difficulty for Peter and his companions and integrating them into our own vision of life.