Sunday, February 28, 2010



This Second Sunday of Lent is like a breather in our Lenten pilgrimage which is characterized by penance and sorrow. Weak and wounded in many ways, we fix our gaze on the transfigured Christ, to derive from him the inspiration we need to undertake or continue our quest for the values of the Kingdom and the splendor
of a holy life.

Let us remember that Jesus was transfigured while he was praying. It was in his dialogue with the Father that the glory of his true self was revealed. May our participation in this Eucharistic celebration bring about the same effect in us, both as individuals and as a community.

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.


Prayer meant so much to Jesus. It was an essential dimension of his life. The Gospels contain numerous references to Jesus’ praying in seclusion or waking up before everybody else to pray in some quiet place.

Every prayerful encounter with his Father brought out the best in Jesus. Three of his disciples – Peter, James and John – witnessed this outpouring of the best in their Master in the episode we call the “Transfiguration.” That was an unforgettable visible manifestation of the transforming power which prayer had on Jesus as a human being.

There are good reasons to believe that such a “transformation” did not take place only on that occasion. It is much more probable, instead, that Jesus was transfigured every time he prayed. The only difference, on Mount Tabor, was that the event had eyewitnesses who could just marvel and rejoice in what they were seeing.

There was a time, however, in the earthly life of Jesus, on another mountain; the Mount of Olives! – when the loving dialogue of prayer turned into a monologue of distress. The usual “Partner” the Father, seemed absent. He appeared to have turned a deaf ear to what Jesus was saying. Nor did He talk to His pleading Son. It was as if God had “hidden His face” from Jesus.

Fortunately, on that occasion, too, Jesus closed his conversation in the way he had taught his disciples to pray: “Your will be done!” Then an angel appeared to console him in his distress. That, too, produced in him a transfiguration of sorts. The presence of the angel said that prayer had “worked.” Jesus’ Partner had been listening, after all. His full answer would come at the Resurrection, the “permanent transfiguration,” which Jesus has been enjoying ever since and which he will enjoy for ever.

Of that “eternal transfiguration,” the transfiguration undergone by Jesus on Mount Tabor was only a preview. It was a “foretaste,” meant to tell the astonished disciples to set their hearts on what really matters: their relationship with God, their filial conversation with Him.

Such is also the lesson for us, as we reflect on the transfiguration of Jesus while he was at prayer. (See Lk 9:29.) If we understand this point clearly, prayer will never be “boring” or “routine” or a monotonous “monologue.” It may happen that we, too, find ourselves praying fervently, crying our hearts out, apparently to no effect, for God seems not to be listening. In such situations the temptation is great to conclude that God does not care anymore about us.

But we know that God is always there. He is always listening even when we can’t see Him and we can’t hear His voice, there and then. His answer will come at the proper time – in His time – which is always the best time.