Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
Our Lady of LaSalette Catholic Church
Sulphur, Louisiana

March 4, 2012
Second Sunday of Lent

“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!”  Mark 9:5.

The Transfiguration is a mystical event with real consequences for the Christian life.  At a certain level, the Transfiguration is surrounded by transcendent signs.  Jesus is transfigured so that “his clothes became dazzling white” (Mark 9:2-3).  Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus, conversing with Him.  A cloud overshadows the scene, and a voice speaks, “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him” (Mark 9:7).  We are overwhelmed by the Divine.  This is exactly as it should be. 

Jesus is being revealed in a part of His glory.  Just a few verses earlier Jesus predicted His Passion.  He said, “… the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days” (Mark 8:31).  This upset His listeners.  Peter even tried to correct Jesus.  That the Messiah would have to suffer and die just did not factor into the popular thinking about what the Messiah must be.  It was, frankly, scandalous.  So, just as when we were children, our parents, after having said harsh words of correction, would then extend some kindness to us, Jesus is transfigured in glory so that the scandal of the cross will not defeat the spirit of His disciples.  The event must have made quite an impression.

The Second Letter of St. Peter recalls the Transfiguration.  It describes how Peter heard the voice of God the Father say, “This is my Son, my beloved” (II Peter 1:17).  Peter continues, “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain” (II Peter 1:18).  It was a moment of “majesty” (II Peter 1:16), he writes.  But the Transfiguration has a significance that goes beyond even those who witnessed it.

St. Paul writes, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:18).  What is St. Paul saying?  How can the Corinthians or any of us, who were not present at the original Transfiguration, not only gaze “with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord” but also be “transformed into the same image from glory to glory”? 

I remember when I was a child I was taught in catechism that through the Sacraments of the Church I was given a share in God’s life.  We call that life sanctifying Grace.  It is a Grace that transforms us into the likeness of God.  As a child, my understanding was quite limited, but the truth was the truth.  Nothing has changed.  God wants us to be conformed to His image, so that we can, as much as is possible, know what He knows and love what He loves.  Sin distorts that image and it distorts us as well.  This we know also.  We are called to perfection, not mediocrity.  And it is of this glory that St. Peter and St. Paul write. 

 In Lent, we enter into an intensified period of time.  It is intense because we are entering more and more deeply into the Passion of Jesus Christ.  For some this might be a scandal.  After all, some people think they are already saved.  Others could care less about a redemptive act.  They say to themselves that they do not need to be redeemed.  They do not need Jesus Christ.  This is the cacophony of the modern world. 

However, we are Christians, and more specifically Catholic Christians.  We come to the Eucharist, and at every Eucharistic celebration we not only relive the mystery of Christ’s redeeming Passion, Death and Resurrection, we become part of it, and it becomes part of us.  In this is our glory. 

This mystery cannot and must not be treated casually.  It must be as real to us as though we were witnessing Elijah and Moses with Jesus on the mountain.  Jesus Christ is offering to us, through our share in His suffering, the promise of glory.  Nothing less is expected of us than was expected of Jesus Christ.  He suffered.  We must suffer.  He picked up His cross.  We embrace ours.  He died.  We must die.  He rose.  This is promised to us as well.  And all of this is given to us in the life of Grace that Jesus Christ shares with us in the Sacramental life of the Church. 

“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (II Corinthians 3:18).