Our readings for today invite us to reflect on the second Sunday in Lent—called Transfiguration Sunday. We hear from the Gospel of Luke. In the previous verses leading up to this scene on the mountain top. Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, this is found at the beginning of chapter nine. Following this Jesus outlines the conditions of discipleship. The next scene is Luke’s version of the Transfiguration. Where He, (Jesus) takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain—these three become important in the early Christian community. According to Scripture Scholars, the Gospel of Luke is arranged to show Jesus as the New Adam, he is considered as the universal savior by the author of Luke. Moses and Elijah are connected back to the Old Testament prophets. Here Jesus does all the right things, he does not disobey his father—unlike the old Adam, we know he embraces his Father’s will for him in this Gospel, he refuses to be tempted and is portrayed often as going to pray, often. As disciples, we are to do likewise. So, in this scene the apostles experience his transfiguration, as the cloud is lifted. In the Old Testament this cloud was typically understood as the presence of God.
Here in this text, we have Peter falling asleep and this brings us right to the garden at Gethsemane at the betrayal of Jesus. These are our fearless leaders, perhaps hapless could be a better word. However, I would like to think that Peter was awestruck being in the presence of God. Can we understand that Peter finds himself caught in an unexpected situation and he says the first thing on impulse, can we identify with Peter? We’ll come back to this impulse in a moment.
In a similar fashion to Abram, in our first reading from Genesis. As Abram waited for the animals to burn out a deep trance fell upon him. This story tells us about God’s covenant and his willingness to stay close and involved with us. Even supplying the flaming torch. God uses the same object (or similar words) to reinstate us into covenant. The important thing for us is to remember is God’s mercy and forgiveness. No matter how bad our transgressions, God desires a right relationship with us.
This leads us to our second reading from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul encourages his community not to be distracted with earthly things but to elevate themselves and embrace our true destiny. They and us are worthy of citizenship in Heaven. In the words of the Psalm, The Lord is my Light and my salvation—whom should we fear? In reflecting on Peter’s desire to build tents up on the mountain. Taking Jesus’ cue, we must not stay on the mountaintop. We must strive to avoid over-identifying(generally thought of as Idolatry). God does not desire us to cling to things/experiences which we cannot change we are to welcome all experiences as gift. The lesson for us on this Transfiguration Sunday is regardless of the circumstances going on around us, in the words of St. Paul, we stand firm in the Lord, our beloved—without any fear. Like, Peter, may we be awestruck and transformed on our Lenten Journey as disciples of Jesus. May we be Blessed by our continued Lenten journey. And may Peace be our gift this and every day. Amen.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.