Bless your faithful, we pray, O Lord, with a blessing that endures for ever; and keep them faithful to the Gospel of your Only Begotten Son, so that they may always desire and at last attain that glory whose beauty he showed in his own Body, to the amazement of his Apostles. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
At this point in Lent we may be feeling the beginnings of tiredness and extra temptations. It is a good point at which to remember the destination of our journey and Pope Francis reminds us again of the victory of Jesus over sin and death. He shows how “the Church points out to us the end of this journey of conversion, namely participation in the glory of Christ, which shines on the face of the obedient Servant, who died and rose for us.”
It is the glory of God for which we are made; our sharing in this glory is not just the endpoint of our Lenten pilgrimage, but the whole point and purpose of our lives. This is what we were made for, to share in the glory and joy of God himself. To help us understand this, Jesus revealed his glory, or at least, as much as humanity could bear, to the disciples Peter, James and John. This event comes near the end of Jesus’s life on earth and frames it, together with the event of his Baptism. Both are Trinitarian in nature; the voice of the Father is heard referring to Jesus his Son and the Holy Spirit is present. At the Baptism of the Lord, the Holy Spirit is seen in the form of a dove, but here there is a cloud from which the Father speaks. This reminds us of the cloud that directed the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land (Ex 14:19); it is the glory of the divine presence.
The glory of God then, is not only an encouraging, or even frightening, sight for the disciples. It has the power to prepare them for the biggest test of their faith so far. We recall how in the first reading for this Sunday, Abraham’s faith is tested to the point where he is able to offer even his only son to God in obedience. Now the Apostles will be asked for an even greater acceptance of God’s plan for humanity – this time, Jesus, unlike Isaac, will actually enter into death.
In his perfect obedience to the Father, Jesus is the perfect icon of the Father and thus reveals his glory. The Holy Father tells us that:
“He is the fulfilment of revelation; that is why beside him appear transfigured, Moses and Elijah appear; they represent the Law and the Prophets, so as to signify that everything finishes and begins in Jesus, in his Passion and in his glory.”
The light that emanated from Jesus points to the glory of the Resurrection. The Holy Father has often reflected on the Transfiguration and how this helps us prepare for the cross, knowing how there will be another face of Jesus to look on between the glory of the Transfiguration and that of the Resurrection; the face of the cross.
“Between this beautiful transfiguration and that Resurrection there will be another face of Jesus. There will be a face that’s not so beautiful.”
You were transfigured on the mountain, and your disciples, as much as they were capable of it, beheld your glory, O Christ our God, so that when they should see you crucified they would understand that your Passion was voluntary, and proclaim to the world that you truly are the splendour of the Father.
Pope Francis points out the link between this transfiguration and revelation of glory and the love which is the very nature of God.
“His full adherence to God’s will renders his humanity transparent to the glory of God, who is love.”
The glory of this love is what we are promised, what we are here on earth to receive and give to others. Far from being a sentimental feeling, our love has to experience both the trials of the desert and the radiance of God’s glory, but we are assured of true happiness if we endure.
The path to Jesus always leads us to happiness, don’t forget it! Jesus’s way always leads us to happiness.
There will always be a cross, trials in the middle, but at the end we are always led to happiness. Jesus does not deceive us, he promised us happiness and will give it to us if we follow his ways.
May our Blessed Lady sustain us as we prepare to come down from the mountain and resume our desert journey to the cross and beyond.
Challenge: Pray to be ready for the cross which follows the Transfiguration.
This reflection is extracted from The Promise of New Life. Meditate on the Scriptures of the Sundays of Lent and Easter with the words of Pope Francis, to discover the promise of new life given to us at Easter.
For more Lenten reflections, and to support the mission of CTS, order your copy of The Promise of New Life today.