2nd Sunday of Lent

Every year on the second Sunday of Lent we hear the account of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.  Immediately preceding the passage that we heard today, Saint Matthew’s Gospel has Our Lord beginning to predict His Passion and death.  Our Lord reveals to His Apostles that He is to be put to death; then He is transfigured before some of them in order to strengthen their faith.

The Transfiguration is a foreshadowing of the Lord’s glorious Resurrection.  The account of the Transfiguration is given to us on the Second Sunday of Lent in order to encourage us to persevere in this season of self-denial that we celebrate with all the more joy the Easter season.

The Transfiguration is an event that has much significance, significance that might not be appreciated if one was not familiar with the Old Testament.  Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus: Moses is the one through whom God communicated the Old Law; Elijah represented the Old Testament Prophets.  Jesus is the fulfillment of everything foretold in the Law and the Prophets.  Jesus taught us that the whole purpose of the Old Testament Law and the Prophets could be summed up in two lines: love God above everything and love your neighbor as yourself.

Through Moses, God established a Covenant with His chosen people.  All of the Old Testament Prophets pointed forward to the coming of the Redeemer.  Jesus establishes the new and eternal Covenant in His own blood; He gives the New Law that calls us to a higher standard: the standard of love.  In the Gospels, Jesus often says that Moses said one thing but that He says another.  Moses was the greatest leader in Israel’s history; for Jesus to change the teachings of Moses was for Him to claim to have a greater authority than Moses.  That would have been shocking, indeed, for the Jewish people.  Yet Moses, himself, predicted the coming of Jesus: he predicted the coming of the Messiah and told the people to listen to him.  All those centuries later, Moses appears with the one that he predicted and those same words used are used, but they come from God the Father: “Listen to him.”

The Transfiguration also reminds us of our ultimate destiny.  Saint Paul says that if we share in Christ’s sufferings, we will share in His glory.  We are all destined to be with Christ in glory, as Moses and Elijah appeared with Him in His glory.  Each and every one of us was created to be united with God forever in Heaven.  In order to be united to God, I have to become more and more like Him.  Jesus calls us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  The Father wants us to surrender our hearts more and more to Him; He wants to transform us and conform us to the image of His Son.  Jesus says that if we would follow after Him, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.  Jesus Christ is our Head; we are His mystical body.  We are to follow Him; we are to imitate Him.  He is the Way to the Father and no one comes to the Father except through Him.

The whole purpose of Lent is to help us to become more like Christ.  Through our self-denial, we strive to let go of our attachments: so that our hearts can belong more completely to God.  Through self-discipline, we gain mastery over our wills: so that we can root sin out of our hearts and grow in virtue.  Making us more Christ-like is the point, not only of Lent, but it also ought to be the point of all that we do.  The goal is to do everything that we do out of love: love for God and love for others.  That should be true in all the areas of our lives, and it should be especially true of what we do here at Mass, as Fr. John talked about in the parish mission this past week.  At the closing Mass of the parish mission, Fr. John reminded us that in the Eucharist, Jesus Christ gives us Himself as Food: He gives Himself to us as Food so that we might be transformed more and more into Him.  The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life: from the Eucharist, we receive the grace to imitate Christ; and becoming more like Christ is the goal (the summit) of the Christian life.

Let us make the most out of this holy season of Lent; that our hearts might be ever more transformed into the Heart of Christ.  Let us open our hearts to all the graces that God wants to give to us in the Holy Communion that we receive today, at this Mass.  God wants to work in our hearts: He wants to work in your heart and He wants to work in my heart.  Yet, He will not force His way into our hearts: we have to open them to Him.  May we open our hearts to God’s grace and grow more and more each day into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, help us to open our hearts to You.  Help us to grow in grace and in love.  May our hearts be ever more fully conformed to the Sacred Heart of Your Son.  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, make our hearts like Yours.  Amen.