Sunday, the Second of Lent

“Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,  and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured (μετεμορφώθη, metemorphothe) 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. (Matthew 17: 1-3).”
     The Greek verb μεταμορφόω (metamorphoo) not only means “to change,” but a change that involves a clear altering of form perceptible to the senses. Such makes sense in this episode atop the mountain. As far as the disciples are concerned, Jesus’ form appeared to change. To the disciples, He looked different. However, it is worth pausing here to ask a question: who changed, Jesus or the disciples?
     Fr Jean Corbon OP penned: “The transfiguration of the Word gives a glimpse of the fullness of what the Word inaugurated in His Incarnation and manifested after His baptism by His miracles: namely, the truth that the body of the Lord Jesus is the sacrament that gives the life of God to men. When our humanity consents without reserve to be united to the humanity of Jesus, it will share the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); it will be divinized. Since the whole meaning of the economy of salvation is concentrated here, it is understandable that the liturgy should be the fulfillment of the economy. The divinization of men will come through sharing in the body of Christ (Jean Corbon OP, The Wellspring of Worship, pages 94-95).” In this vein, the disciples - through grace - changed (or were transfigured) as they were able, at that moment, to glimpse the reality of Who Jesus is.
     The Catechism of the Catholic Church continues this insight: “On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration,” namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration:” our own Resurrection. From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.” But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God (paragraph 556).”

     While the Feast of the Transfiguration is celebrated each year on 6 August, the episode is most appropriate in a season of intense preparation and purification for Baptism. Jesus’ Transfiguration shines Who He is upon all humanity calling humanity to transformation (transfiguration) in this life now by living a morality of renewed mind and heart resulting in a perceptible experience of who we are in Christ.

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