Second Sunday of Lent
The Transfiguration: Between Two Mountains
By Sister Mary Kathleen Burns
Two mountains figure prominently in Jesus’ Life: Mount Tabor and Mount Calvary.
On Mount Tabor Peter, James and John were given a glimpse into Jesus’ divinity. Jesus stood before them, bathed in Trinitarian Light, with Moses representing the Father as Giver of the Law on one side, and Elijah representing the Spirit who has spoken through Prophets on the other.
How beautiful Jesus must have been! The three apostles basked in the glow. So enthralled were they that Peter suggested they build three tents and remain there. Peter, like us, wanted to stay on the mountain to continue to savor the experience, but Jesus refused to allow him to create a permanent retreat center. He said Peter must go back down the mountain and begin living out this experience in day-to-day life and ministry to God’s people, and ultimately in his own experience of suffering.
Having seen Jesus in glory, we marvel at how quickly the glow faded after coming down the mountain! We wonder how the apostles could have doubted Jesus after all they had witnessed. How could they have betrayed him after seeing his glory? After all, Jesus’ gift of the Transfiguration was to strengthen them for the coming crisis. Mt. Tabor was preparation for the next mountain Jesus would climb where he would be disfigured, hanging not between Moses and Elijah, but between two others, common criminals.
Like the apostles, we too have been chosen and gifted with an experience of God’s love in Jesus Christ. We have the benefit of a long tradition of rich teaching, the Holy Scriptures which are so accessible to us, and the life and grace of the Sacraments, especially the opportunity to receive Eucharist. These are our Tabor experiences which are given us not to revel in, but to prepare us to go down into the valley of life, living out our discipleship in our day-to-day encounters, which at times will challenge us to climb mount Calvary where Jesus seems disfigured.
The Transfiguration teaches us that Jesus is fully present in all these experiences, whether in glory, in the mundane duties of our life, or in suffering. Ultimately, God gives us moments of glory, clarity and insight so that we can also see Him in the ordinary, in the darkness and especially in suffering.