“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!” (Mk 9:5). Here we are at the Second Sunday of Lent, and Mother Church offers us an appropriate set of readings: the Genesis account of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (Gn 22); St. Paul’s famous Romans passage, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rm 8); and the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor (Mk 9). These readings are all connected because they all reference sacrifice, but not a sacrifice that is meaningless or that ends in destruction. The sacrifice to which these readings point is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is a sacrifice that ends with redemption — the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Let us look more closely at the account of the Transfiguration. Mark 9 begins with Jesus leading Peter, James and John up a mountain after a 6 days’ journey. Some of the Fathers interpreted this as rising above our love for creating things so that we can attain the vision of Christ’s glory. Lent, of course, is purification from being attached to creation so that we can be attached to the Creator. The Fathers also saw allusions to the Most Holy Trinity in the Transfiguration account. Christ takes three disciples and St. Peter wants to build three tents (for Jesus, Moses and Elijah). The most direct allusion to the Trinity is similar to the Baptism in the Jordan, but more emphasized: the Father’s voice is heard, the Son is transfigured, and the Holy Spirit is present in the cloud. Just as God revealed His glory to Moses on Mount Sinai, and later to Elijah on Mount Horeb, so Jesus manifests His divine splendor on Mount Tabor amidst Moses and Elijah to show that He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
Perhaps the most important part of this gospel passage for us to take along with us on our Lenten journey are the words of the Father directed to Jesus, but also directed to His disciples: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” As beloved sons and daughters of the Father, how are we listening to His Son, Jesus? Yes, we must listen to His commandments and the teachings of His Church, but how are we listening to His words directed to us? We will never hear our Lord if we never make time for Him. To make that extra effort this Lent for prayerful contemplation may give us the word we need so that our penance may have meaning and our Easter may bring us great joy.
Reflection by Fr. Nolan Lowry, STL, pastor of St. Leo Parish in Centerville, Texas.