Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18, Phil 3:17—4:1, Luke 9:28b-36
The old farmer from the countryside who was visiting a big city for the first time with his son, stood speechless before the elevator of a big hotel, watching in wonder, as an old woman got into the elevator and, within minutes, a beautiful young woman came out. He called out to his son who was registering at the reception. “Son, put your mother into that miracle machine immediately. It will transform her into a beautiful young lady.”
Dear Friends! At God’s prompting, Abram moved his considerable holdings from the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) to a land he knew not (modern Palestine). As a reward for Abram’s trust and obedience, God promised him numerous descendants. He also promised Abram a land for himself and his family. When Abram asked for a sign that would seal this promise, God entered into a unilateral contract with him, using an ancient ritual of contract.
It may seem complicated to us but it would have been easily understood by Abram. It was the way people made covenants or contracts in those days. The ritual of cutting an animal in half and walking between the halves was a symbolic way of saying “may the same thing happen to me as to this animal if I am unfaithful to my word.” God is often represented as fire, and in this experience only God moved in-between the two halves of the animals. This indicated that God was not asking Abram to promise anything God asked only for Abram’s trust.
As our lives move along, there are disappointments but there are also hopes and promises that we look forward to. Abram looked forward to the promise of land, many descendants and numerous blessings. God assured him his hopes would be fulfilled.
Jesus had several times warned his apostles that he would suffer and die. Now he gave three of them a special experience to help them know what was ahead, that his death would lead to glory. The experience of the transfiguration perhaps was meant to give strength and hope to Peter, James, and John, to help them survive Jesus arrest and crucifixion or it was a gift from God the Father to Jesus to help and encourage his commitment to be faithful to his mission. Whatever it was, it was a promise of future glory and assurance that God would not let down those who trusted in him.
If the transfiguration is a promise of future glory for Jesus and the Apostles, St. Paul gives us a promise of future glory for us when he tells us today “our citizenship is in heaven.” We are only tourists in this world and it’s not our true home. We must always have our bags packed because we never know when we will be called to move on. And we will be called. Paul tells us God “will change our lowly bodies to conform with his glorified body.” We will be transfigured also. Lent helps us remember to be ready to move on and make any changes in our lives we need to make, so we will be ready to meet our God in eternal glory.
In each Holy Mass, the bread and wine we offer on the altar become “transfigured” or transformed into the living body and blood of the crucified, risen and glorified Jesus. Just as Jesus’ transfiguration strengthened the apostles in their time of trial, each holy Mass should be our source of heavenly strength against temptations, and our renewal during Lent. Because Mass is always an assurance and a promise of what’s ahead, especially in Communion. At the Eucharistic table we are reminded of his death for us. We are also assured that he hasn’t left us orphans, but he is still with us and in Communion he wants us to be more closely united with himself.
In the Gospel the Father speaks to the three apostles, Peter, James and John and says, “This is my chosen Son, listen to him.” (Luke 9:35) That is what Lent is about, listening to Jesus. Are we giving God sufficient time to speak to us? Is the Lord asking something of us this Lent? If so let us follow the Father’s advice, “This is my chosen Son, listen to him.”