Chapter Talk – Second Sunday of Lent – March 17, 2019 – Cycle-C
The first Sunday of Lent always begins with the gospel of the temptations of Jesus and the second Sunday of Lent is always the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. All three synoptic gospels have accounts of the temptations and of Jesus’ transfiguration. What is important to note about todays’ gospel is that all three evangelists precede the account of the Transfiguration with Jesus saying ‘if any want to be a follower of mine they must deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow me’ (Lk 9:23). It is clear then that there is no ‘glory’, there is no true life without suffering. If we want to add other words than ‘suffering’ we could as well say we have to give something of ourselves for true life, or, we have to die to those things, which remove God from being the center and focus of our lives. We know very well that when we put our selves at the center we are not free, in fact we are more anxious, more fearful, more jealous, more caught in inner turmoil.
Pope Francis in an Angelus talk says that Peter, James and John saw Jesus “as he would be after the Passion: glorious. And in this way Jesus prepared them for the trial. The Transfiguration helps the disciples, and us too, to understand that the Passion of Christ is a mystery of suffering, but it is above all a gift of love, of infinite love on Jesus’ part” (Pope Francis, Angelus, February 25, 2018). Let us not lose sight of what is being said here: suffering, dying to our selfish ways, all have an outcome…and that outcome is the gift of love, infinite love, a love that transforms and gives us hope…we receive it from God, we receive it from following the One who is the incarnate paradigm of God’s love and as we receive we are motivated to do the same, without even thinking about it!
In another Angelustalk Pope Francis says: “Transfigured on Mount Tabor, Jesus wanted to show his disciples his glory, not for them to circumvent the Cross, but to show where the Cross leads. Those who die with Jesus, shall rise again with Jesus. The Cross is the door to Resurrection. Whoever struggles alongside him will triumph with him. This is the message of hope contained in Jesus’ Cross, urging us to be strong in our existence” (Pope Francis, Angelus, March 12, 2017). What is this saying? Side by side are the ‘cross’ and the ‘resurrection’…these realities are not to be separated. The whole outer appearance of Jesus has changed in this revelation. This revelation points to the interior: the love of Jesus’ Abba has now become fully who he is: and we too with the disciples hear the Holy One’s voice saying: ‘This is my chosen Son, listen to him’. And so this voice is a call as well to us on the second Sunday of Lent: ‘listen to my beloved Son’….listen to him…follow him without counting the cost for in him you too will be transformed into something more beautiful and elevated beyond all that pulls us down into meaninglessness and hopelessness. The transfigured outer appearance mirrors the change that happens within. Indeed love triumphs…love has the last word always. This is who Jesus is.
The message on this second Sunday of Lent is strong: no glory, no transformation without the cross…the cross, our own, if we take it up leads to resurrection…leads to a life more fully imbued with God’s love. The face of Christ is the face of love…that is what radiates from the Transfiguration. It follows, then, that in him our face is to become this same radiance of God’s love. Listen to my Son: ‘whoever loses her life will find life’….’take up your cross and follow me’. At the heart of the Paschal Mystery is the gift of God’s love, a love, which has the immense power to transform all darkness and evil. God’s love is stronger than death and the transfigured One is telling us this for our Lenten journey. Are we open enough to believe and hang on to this message? If we want life we cannot circumvent the Cross.
Sr. Kathy DeVico, OCSO