Lectio: 2nd Sunday of Lent | It is good to be here
J esus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them: they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. "Lord," he said "it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him." When they heard this, the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. "Stand up," he said "do not be afraid." And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus. As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, "Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead."
C an you remember a time when some one or something changed before your eyes and you saw goodness and beauty there that you never saw before, and you were deeply moved? It could be the beauty of nature: a river, a lake or the ocean, a sunrise, a sunset or the stars in a clear night sky. At a particular moment, and completely unexpectedly, as you look at one of these you are deeply touched; you can say to yourself what St. Peter said at the Transfiguration: it is good for me to be here.
Or it could be the goodness and beauty of a person that suddenly shines out for you. It may be someone close to you who normally seems so ordinary, yet at a special moment is changed before your eyes and the person's wonderful beauty shines out. Parents may have this experience at the birth of their children or as they see them on First Communion day, all dressed up and glowing with wonder and excitement. At such moments they know that all the sacrifices they make for their children are well worthwhile.
Goodness shines out.
Mickey Harte said that his daughter’s tragic death in Mauritius could make sense only as part of God’s bigger plan. Michaela herself used to remind her father of “God’s bigger plan” when all important football results did not go his way.
In her death she was transfigured: her goodness shone out for all the people of Ireland to see. They saw her loveliness as Rose of Ulster and as a young bride. They saw her zest for living: her enthusiasm for the GAA, her commitment to her native language, and her courageous living of her Christian faith. Modern young people could see in her a model of what is best in our Irish tradition.
Sometimes our experience of 'transfiguration' happens in a religious setting. It may occur when we are praying alone, or when we drop into an empty church, or when we are at Mass, at a prayer meeting or on a pilgrimage. We may experience a deep peace or we may sense that God is present and loves and accepts us.
It may be words that are transfigured. Something a family member or a friend says, strikes home in a way that person could never have imagined. It may be a homily that speaks so directly to me that it could have been meant for me alone. Or a passage from the Bible which I have heard many times before, but which suddenly comes alive; I can hear life story in those words.
Maybe children have moments of transfiguration more often than adults because they have not lost their sense of wonder. A child may call out: 'Look, Mummy, look!' The child may be on her knees looking at a beetle or a flower or a pool of water, and can sense what adults often cannot sense: that everything in God's creation is a wonder.
Glimpsing the goodness of God
As we recall the transfigurations we have seen, we are recalling our deep spiritual and religious experiences. We can treasure each of these when they occur and we can say, 'It is good for us to be here.' Like the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, these experiences do not last. After a while we have to come back down to our ordinary lives. But forever afterwards we are encouraged and nourished by the memory of those times. In this life we glimpse the goodness and glory of God at special moments; in the next life, please God, we will see that goodness and beauty at every moment.
God our Father,
In the transfigured glory of Jesus, your Son
you strengthen our faith
by confirming the witness of your prophets,
and you show us the splendour of your beloved sons and daughters.
As we listen to the voice of your Son
help us to become heirs of eternal life with him
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
Icon from Domincan Monastery Siena, Ireland