No matter which year of the three-year lectionary cycle we are in, the Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Lent is always the same: the Transfiguration. What on earth is it doing here? Isn’t Jesus revealing his glory the opposite of sack cloth and ashes? I think there are two good reasons for this, both for Jesus to be transfigured before his passion and death, and for us to celebrate this Transfiguration early on in our Lent.
For Jesus, the Transfiguration helped him to be in touch with why he was on earth. Supported by the counsel of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, Jesus can better see the destination of his ministry. At the same time, the Transfiguration reminds him that even now he is God, possessed of all the glory of being the Son.
If the Transfiguration explained to Jesus what his mission was and who he already was, it also explains to us what our mission is and who we truly are. I once had a customer at work write to complain about the Bob Hurd song, Transfigure Us, O Lord. We aren’t transfigured until the resurrection – was the argument, but I’m not so sure. It seems to me that having begun our Lenten discipline, like the first week or so of a diet or an exercise plan, we can feel different – somehow changed. We need to see ourselves as transfigured, even now, because Lent is long, and we will have to work at it to make it all the way through to our destination – to the joy of Easter. But at the same time, we need to remember something important about ourselves. The victory has already been won for us. With Jesus, our brother, we are children of God. All that remains is for us to let ourselves be guided on that journey home. We can go astray, but with Lent to help us, we can shape our lives more closely to that of Christ. We can be transfigured even now.
–Glenn Byer has been making music for the Mass for 40 years, and has been writing about and offering courses and workshops on liturgy for more than 30 years. He holds a Master’s in liturgy from the University of Notre Dame, and a doctorate in liturgy from the Pontifical Institute for Liturgy at the Atheneaum of Sant’Anselmo in Rome. Glenn has written numerous books: 26 Ordinary Ways to Live the Liturgy, Unlocking the Feasts and Seasons of the Liturgical Year and Living the Liturgy of the Word.