From the Pastor – March 4, 2012

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. (Mk. 9:2-3)

Last week Jesus was out in the desert, hungry and thirsty. And this week, He’s on top of a mountain, transfigured in dazzling white before Peter, James and John. This transfiguration has traditionally been interpreted as a preliminary revelation of the glory of Jesus given to His closest collaborators so that they might be strengthened in advance of the scandal of the cross. And in this moment of mystical experience, they also hear a voice from heaven: “Listen to Him.”

During Lent, there is something comforting about the transfiguration for us, too. It reminds us that we are also on a mission, and it reminds us that we are called to accept the wisdom of Jesus, which counsels us to reject our worldly quest for satisfaction and security in favor a new life marked by service to others.

In the end, the words “Listen to Him,” are directed well beyond Peter, James and John to each one of us 2000 years later. And the implications are profound. If Jesus is our model, our leader and our savior, then our participation in salvation is completely connected to the words of his message: the Word.

We know we are in a desert in this world, despite its beauty. And we know that Heaven is brighter than the “dazzling white that no fuller on earth could bleach.” And in-between we have the journey of life. Lent is a mini-journey within our larger journey where we take the time to divorce ourselves from the pleasures of the world. It is a time when we should train ourselves to seek the things of Heaven.

As St. Paul tells us: “we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18). The transfiguration is a reminder of the eternal things of God – incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. And the small denials (“giving up of things”) of Lent are our rejection of the transitory in favor of the eternal. Prayer, fasting and alms giving characterize our season. Two specifically reject the transient things of earth, and one reaches to eternity in Heaven. Remember: “SACRIFICIUM.” That’s what won us Heaven.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty