Transfiguration: a reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Lent

POST BY TShufflebotham

Long ago in a school I came round a corner in time to hear the least impressive of the prefects (sixth formers) addressing a small boy who had evidently displeased him in some way. “I don't know who you think you are. I will tell you who you are. Just scum! That's who you are.” Without realising it, he was really conveying nothing about the small boy but giving an insight into his own character. I hope the junior did not often hear such things. If he did it could damage him for life. Among convicts I have met many who in their childhood heard nothing positive about themselves.

The reverse of all this is seen in the Gospel account of the Transfiguration. At his River Jordan baptism, before setting out on his public ministry, Jesus had heard from heaven the Father's affirming voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved” and now, in the middle of those years of ministry, Jesus is transfigured: his divine glory shines through and again the Father's voice is heard, and the message is the same: Jesus is God's beloved Son. Here is the key to all that follows: it is as the beloved Son that he will face injustice, torture, and death; and as the beloved Son that he will rise to new life, to glory and “all authority in heaven and on earth”.

The Transfiguration event reveals in a flash who Jesus is and his destiny – and our destiny too as he has made us his sisters and brothers.

God's loving, affirming word builds up; and by God's grace our attitudes and our words can, in our human way, build up and transfigure others... just as our words and attitudes can destroy.

The witnesses of the Transfiguration – Peter, James and John – were going to be the nearest to Jesus in his agony… and in the coming years they would lead the growing Christian community in Jerusalem. They can impress on us: have faith in Jesus Christ, living, suffering, rising from death and leading us and the Church heavenwards.     

Reflection by Father Tom Shufflebotham SJ

Painting: 'Transfiguration', by Raphael, 1520 (unfinished at his death)

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