Last week we noted that the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is always an account of Jesus being tempted in the desert by Satan. The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent is always an account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. At the Transfiguration, the apostles Peter, James, and John get a glimpse of the fullness of who Jesus is. He is revealed as fully human and fully divine. He is revealed as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets as He converses with both Moses and Elijah. And He is revealed as the Son of God when the voice out of the cloud declares, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.”
During this lent we may want to consider how we are being called to transfiguration or transformation. We are called to get in touch with who we really are – the people God made us to be. We are called to let God in ever more deeply into our hearts and our lives in order to be transformed into our true selves. I’m not so much talking about some comic book transformation from ordinary human being into a superhero, as I am about being more fully ourselves. We let God in to heal whatever gets in the way of being the people God created us to be.
We let God in when we are willing to believe, in the words of our second reading from Romans, that God is not against us, nor is God waiting to catch us in some sin or mistake, but that God is indeed for us! God does not seek to condemn us but to free us! God loves us more than we can imagine!
We let God in when we are willing to surrender our will to God’s; when we are willing to follow God’s plan rather than our own. In our first reading from Genesis, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac at the command of God. This must have confused and dismayed Abraham, because he loved Isaac and understood that God’s promises to him would be fulfilled through him. But Abraham was willing to surrender to God, and his surrender was vindicated when God again made a promise to him: “I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.” It can be hard to understand how surrendering to someone else, even to God, will result in being fully ourselves. But that is how it is with God. When I try to live by my own devices, I get in trouble; I go off-center, and I am not the person I am meant to be. Somehow surrendering to God’s love and will brings me closer and closer to being my true self, and I find the peace the world cannot give.
We let God in and are transformed when we heed the voice from the cloud and listen to Jesus. We are to listen to His command to love God and love our neighbor. We listen to him when He calls us out of our comfort zone to see our neighbor in those who are different and even live far away. He calls us out of complacency to see Him in those considered the least in our world. He calls us away from a wisdom that celebrates greed and self-absorption, and toward a wisdom that comes from sacrifice and self-giving.
When we listen to Jesus, not only are we transformed, but we can come together and be agents of transformation. We listen to Jesus when we realize that violence cannot be stopped by more violence, anymore than poverty can be stopped by greed, or exploitation can be stopped by lust. We listen to Jesus when we work for justice and the real peace that results from it.
May we let God in to transfigure us, not into completely different persons, but into the persons we truly are. And may we work together for the transfiguration of our world, which is in so much need of healing and hope.
Fr. Phil, CP