Transfiguration and the Second Sunday of Lent : Wholly Fire and Wholly Light
Just as the body of the Lord was glorified on the mountain when it was transfigured in the glory of God and in infinite light, so the bodies of the saints will be glorified and shine like lightning.
The struggle we engage is about turning away from sin. But it is also about turning toward the total transformation of the integrated human person. It will only be complete in the Resurrection of our Bodies. However, it begins now. It is not accidental that the Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent was the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert (Lk. 4:1-13) and the Gospel of the Second is the Transfiguration on the mountain. They are connected.
The Transfiguration of the Lord
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - On the Second Sunday of Lent, I read these words from the Holy Gospel at Mass. It is Cycle C so I proclaim the account of the Transfiguration from the Gospel of St. Luke (Lk. 9: 28b - 36):
"Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him."
"As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen."
Every year I am asked the question: Why, on the second Sunday of Lent does the Church offer us an account of the Transfiguration? The inclusion of this account is an ancient liturgical practice. We also hear the account proclaimed on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Whether during Lent or on its own Feast, the Gospel account is meant to focus us on the "end" of the Christian life and our own vocation."End" in the philosophical and theological sense means purpose or goal.
We will all be transfigured, as the Lord Himself was transfigured, when our redemption is complete in the Resurrection of the Body. Then, we will live, in the new heaven and new earth, in the fullness of the Communion of Love. This reality is meant to affect the way we live our lives - beginning right now. It also helps us understand one of the purposes of undertaking our ascetical practices during these forty days.
In the Eastern Christian Churches, Orthodox and Catholic, the First Week of the Great Lent is called Clean Week. The focus of the week is to enter fully into the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving with fervor. It is setting the pace for the forty days by running the first lap with vigorous effort. Strict fasting is encouraged, along with frequent prayer and almsgiving.
The intensity of the first week is intended to cultivate the proper disposition needed to achieve the desired end of the forty days of Lent, ongoing conversion of life reflected in a new way of living. Our freedom was fractured by sin. The way it can be healed is through the application of the Splint of the Cross. However, that cross must be embracedl.
The call goes out to clean house, to be rid of all sin and entanglements which hold us back from reclaiming the freedom the Lord desires for each one of us. In fact, in many Orthodox and Eastern Catholic communities the actual houses of believers are cleaned and stripped of excess, a symbol of the interior dynamic of the week and the very essence of Lent.
During the forty days of Lent we called to enter into a holy struggle against our disordered passions and weaknesses so that we can become more fitting vessels for the life and light of God to dwell within, making us new.
Eastern Christians have retained some of the more austere practices and customs which were a part of the ancient practices of the early Church. However, all of the lenten practices focus us on the effect of our disordered passions and appetites. They expose the division within us - and around us. All of this is the result of sin and its lingering effects. The Church as mother and teacher invites us into a spiritual battle to strengthen us.
The struggle we engage is about turning away from sin. But it is also about turning toward the total transformation of the integrated human person.It will only be complete in the Resurrection of our Bodies. However, it begins now. It is not accidental that the Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent was the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert (Lk. 4:1-13) and the Gospel of the Second is the Transfiguration on the mountain. They are connected.
An ancient homily reminds us "Just as the body of the Lord was glorified on the mountain when it was transfigured in the glory of God and in infinite light, so the bodies of the saints will be glorified and shine like lightning. "The glory which you have given me I have given to them" (John 17:22). As countless candles are lighted from a single flame, so the bodies of all Christ's members will be what Christ is. Our human nature is transformed into the fullness of God; it ...
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