Second Sunday Of Lent, February 17, 2008

Genesis 12: 1 - 4A

2 Timothy 1: 8B - 10

Matthew 17: 1 - 9

Explanatory Note:
Peter has recognized Christ. (Matt. 16:16). God's voice on the Mountain of the Transfiguration invites us to listen to the Son (17:5). It is a confirmation of the announcement of the Passion of Jesus: the glorification of the Messiah will be accomplished through suffering.

This scene evokes other theophanies in the Old Testament: it is situated on a mountain in the presence of Moses and Elijah who had encountered the Lord on Sinai (Horeb). Six days afterwards (17:1) recalls Exodus 24:16 when the cloud covered Mt. Sinai for six days, and only the following day did God call Moses. Peter proposes to prolong the experience by putting up three tents, just like the Tent that was put up after the Sinai experience. (Ex 25-27 ; 36-38).

The question of confidence that Jesus had posed to his disciples in Caesarea marks a turning point in the revelation that Jesus made concerning his mission. Peter had professed that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God. By the grace of God, he is the rock on which Jesus will build his Church, a church against which the gates of hell will not prevail. On the way to Jerusalem with his disciples, Jesus again announces his Passion. If Peter had been exalted on account of his profession of faith, he is also reprimanded because he rejects the idea of Jesus' suffering. In the scene of the Transfiguration, a revelatory scene where Peter is again present, a voice from the cloud repeats what was said at the Baptism: Jesus is the beloved Son, who has the Father's favor. But a command is added: Listen to him. Listen to what?

Peter interprets the scene mistakenly: Jesus transfigured and in conversation with Moses and Elijah, the first and the last of the Prophets, recalls Israel's hope of eternal tents. Peter anticipates the future and already sees them installed in the tents of the Last Days. The voice of the Father reminds him -- and also us -- that it is necessary to hear what Jesus has just announced, the Passion and Resurrection and the conditions required to become disciples.

In a radical way, the Gospel presents us with the question concerning the place the Cross has in our lives and our faith in the resurrection. Looking to the promise of the resurrection that Jesus announces once more, on coming down from the mountain and back to everyday life with the disciples, are we ready to take up our cross, the weight of our sin and that of others? By faith in the promise of life, are we ready, like Abraham to accept partings, to take risks, to take on our anxieties and limitations, our defects and our weakness? Paul understood it well when, with the strength of God, he invites us to take our part in the suffering entailed in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Let pray for one another, asking the grace of Hope before the joys and sufferings that co-exist in our lives. Let us ask that faith in the resurrection may model our present life, direct our choices, give us courage in the struggle against evil in ourselves and around us. Let us ask with insistence and make our own the words of the Responsorial Psalm of today's liturgy: God watches over those who fear Him and put their trust in his Love; to deliver them from death, preserve their lives, care for them in time of famine. We hope for our life from the Lord. He is our support and our shield. Let your Love be upon us, O Lord, as all our trust is in You!

—Sophie Ramond, R.A.