First reading: Gen. 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 Tim. 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: Mt. 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.”
In other words
Fr. Simon Boiser, SVD (Germany)
An ancient Greek philosopher named Heraclitus famously said, “All things pass, and nothing stays. You could not step twice into the same river.” Change is an indelible part of life. We have to deal with it, whether we like it or not. Health, age, work, and income are subject to change. Maybe your dreams and plans did not work out. Change often brings fear of losing what we love, desire, and value. However, God uses the changing circumstances of our lives and the world to bring us into new life.
The Transfiguration story teaches us how to deal with change. Jesus wants to prepare and help the disciples live through the coming change. The Transfiguration is a vision, a special revelation of Jesus’ divinity and God’s divine affirmation of everything Jesus had done and was about to do. Every year we hear this Gospel during the season of Lent because this season focuses on change.
In the midst of change in our mundane lives, many voices begin to speak in our heads. These voices chatter about what is happening and what should be done. Some voices ask questions, and others want explanations. The Transfiguration story reminds us that there is only one voice to listen to: the voice of God from the bright cloud who says, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Listening to God enables inner change or a spiritual transformation. Interior change, also known as conversion of the heart and mind, does not happen automatically. It comes after experiencing divine revelation or epiphany. People, who truly “encounter” the transcendental presence of God in their lives, often become “transfigured” persons themselves with a different perspective and behavior in the world, with a different sense of mission or purpose in their lives.
But this profound experience could not be understood immediately and what is not understood is often difficult to explain. The mystical experience seemed too much for the disciples. That is why Jesus told the three disciples with him to keep it in their hearts as they headed back to everyday life.
The Transfiguration story reminds us about the reality of divinity and its powerful influence. When Christ is present in our lives, we also perceive the sacredness of the world. Can you recall any similar time in your own life when you have been taken out of yourself or beyond yourself by a religious experience?