Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
Consider the aurora borealis. Scientists tell us that these strange and beautifully colored lights in the sky over the Artic as well as Antarctica are the result of electrons colliding with the upper reaches of earth’s atmosphere. (Please don’t ask me to explain further!) When I see pictures of the auroras, they inspire me to call them “God’s technicolor signature”
All of this leads me to see a resemblance between this sky-bound event and the transfiguration of Jesus, when a bit of heaven shines on three humble fishermen. The Church consistently asks for this story to be read on the second Sunday of Lent. I find it a marvelous and hope-filled one for all of us.
Suddenly the young rabbi from Nazareth is shown to be more than “something good” coming from that humble village, to answer Nathaniel’s question when he asked if anything good could come from there.
What are we to make of this event? Why is it told to us every year in these early days of Lent? For me, the story has always been a kind of spiritual “pep rally.” Something to get us stirred up about our Lenten efforts at self-reform as together we renew our baptismal mission. We know that in this year 2017, our mission faces difficulties and even suffering because of the prevailing secular culture. There are people in the world who merely tolerate our being Christian, and just barely at that. They prefer that we keep our practice in low key, confined to Sunday and with an unexpressed wish that we not “make waves” on Monday in the so-called “real world.”
We need cheering on from time to time, especially now when the color purple of the Mass vestments and sanctuary decor, together with the absence of bright flowers in church, and the omission of the “Glory to God” prayer from Mass combine to remind us that Lent is a serious season meant for penance.
The Transfiguration of Jesus reminds us that there is an Easter on the other side of Good Friday. Easter not only as an historical event but also as a personal one as Jesus rises from the grave and invites us to live now with an eye on an eternal place of happiness gloriously lit by love.
We are to walk beside Jesus in all His pain brought on by our sins. So we walk with a certain sadness. Yet we believe that we are also invited by Him to share in the merits of all that suffering and rejoice in His promises.
Now let us pray. Truly Lord, we are not worthy of walking in the bright light of abiding joy, but only say the word, and we shall be healed of all our doubts and despair. Amen
First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4a
The Lord gives Abram his “marching orders,” disregarding his age or attachments to homeland. At the same time He confers seven blessings that display his high regard for Abram.
Second Reading: II Timothy 1:8b-10
Far from being ashamed, Paul tells Timothy he is to join in suffering for the gospel. Jesus manifested salvation by destroying death and bringing immortality.
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9
The three Apostles Peter, James and John witness Jesus’ transfiguration and His conversation with Moses and Elijah, titans of the Old Testament. No wonder Peter wants to stay on the mountain! But the Father’s voice in the cloud gives an order. And Jesus, back to His normal appearance, tells the men to join Him and go back down the hill to continue His mission.