The common theme of today’s readings is metamorphosis or transformation. The readings invite us to work, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to transform and renew our lives during Lent, so that we may radiate the glory and grace of the transfigured Lord which we have received, to all around us by our Spirit-filled lives.
The first reading describes the transformation of a pagan patriarch into a believer in the one God. His name will be transformed from Abram to Abraham and his small family into a great nation. All Abram has to do is obey the Lord God’s command, and he does so.
The second reading, taken from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy, explains the type of Lenten transformation expected of us. We are transformed when we recognize the hand of a loving, providing, and disciplining God behind all our hardships, pain, and suffering and try our best to grow in holiness by cooperating with the grace of God given to us through Jesus and his Gospel.
In the Transfiguration story in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to allow Jesus to consult his Heavenly Father in order to ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death, and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of Jesus’ Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering political Messiah and might be strengthened in their time of trial.
On the mountain, Jesus is identified by the Heavenly Voice as the Son of God. Thus, the Transfiguration narrative is a Christophany, that is, a manifestation or revelation of who Jesus really is. Describing Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him, as the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33), for today encourages us to do.
(1) The Transubstantiation in the Holy Mass is the source of our strength. In each Holy Mass, our offering of bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus under the appearances of bread and wine. Hence, just as the Transfiguration of Jesus strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength for resisting our own temptations and a source of grace for renewing our lives during Lent. In addition, communion with Jesus in prayer and especially in the Eucharist should be a source of daily transformation of both our minds and hearts, enabling us to see Jesus in every one of our brothers and sisters with whom we come in contact each day.
(2) Each Sacrament that we receive transforms us. Baptism, for example, transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of heaven. Confirmation makes us the temples of the Holy Spirit. By the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God brings back the sinner to the path of holiness. By receiving in Faith, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we are spiritually, and sometimes physically, healed, and our sins are forgiven.
(3) A message of hope and encouragement. In moments of doubt, pain and suffering, disappointment and despair, we need mountain-top experiences to reach out to God and listen to His consoling words: “This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased.” Our ‘Lenten penance’ will lead us to the ‘Easter joy.’