Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Second Sunday of Lent, 1 March 2015

The Second Sunday of Lent
1 March 2015
“This is my beloved Son in whom I am well
pleased; hear him.” Mt. 17:5
In today’s Gospel (Mt. 17:1-9), we are given
a glimpse of the great glory of God in heaven.
While His stunned apostles, Peter, James and John
look on, the transfigured Jesus speaks of His
coming passion with the Prophet Elias, and with
Moses, the Father of the Law. It is truly a
revelation beyond our earthly comprehension: a
penetrating (or “rare”) vision of eternity. Jesus
reveals the glory of His Divinity as St. John told us
in the beginning of his gospel: “And we saw his
glory—glory as of the only begotten of the
Father—full of grace and truth.” Jn. 1:14. In
today’s Epistle (I Thess: 4:1-7) St. Paul tells the
Thessalonians that they must continue in a life of
holiness: “For this is the will of God, your
sanctification.” I Thess. 4:3 Only those who do
God’s will and are holy will enjoy the glory of God
in heaven. The message of the Transfiguration is
that there will be no glory unless we suffer with
Christ who died on Mt. Calvary.
“For God has not called you to
uncleanness, but unto holiness.” I Thess. 4:7
In addressing the Thessalonians, St. Paul is
aware that they have only been converted for one
year, therefore he reminds them not to revert back
to their pagan practices of uncleanness; “For this is
the will of God, your sanctification that you
abstain from immorality; not in the passion of lust
like the Gentiles who do not know God...” I Thess.
4:3 & 5. Only the clean of heart will see God in His
glory as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see
God.” Mt. 5:8
Christ destroys death
Jesus has conquered death by His cross and
resurrection. St. Luke alone tells us that Jesus is
talking to Moses and Elias about His “death, which
was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.” Lk. 9:31.
St. Peter does not seem to understand the need for
Jesus to suffer and die, and he wants to build three
tents there to prolong the glory of the moment: “It
is good for us to be here.” Mt. 17:4 Peter’s wish,
of course, is not possible because Jesus has come to
suffer and die for our sins. He is doing the Father’s
will, and this is why the Father is well-pleased with
Him: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am wellpleased;
hear him.” Mt. 17:5 . In this scene, we
have a theophany, a revelation of God as the
Blessed Trinity: the Son is transfigured in glory,
the Father speaks, and the Holy Spirit overshadows
them in a cloud (like He overshadowed the Ark of
the Covenant in the Old Testament). What greater
confirmation could the apostles have of Jesus’
mission? Pope St. Leo the Great comments on
Jesus’ divinity overshadowing Elias and Moses:
“He is the one who teaches the truth of prophecy
(Elias) through His presence, and makes the
obedience to the Commandments (Moses)
possible through grace.” Pope St. Leo also tells us
that Jesus reveals Himself to the Apostles to remove
from them the scandal of the cross which He had
revealed to them several days previously when He
told them that He would suffer and die and rise
from the dead: “…the primary purpose of this
transfiguration was to remove the scandal of the
cross from the hearts of Christ’s disciples; the
greatness of His glory was revealed to them to
prevent their faith from being shaken by the
self-abasement of the suffering He was
voluntarily to undergo.” By showing the apostles
His transfigured Body, Jesus would sustain them
for His future suffering and death.
The Glory of Jesus’ Human Nature
Dom Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical
Life, Vol. 5 comments on the dramatic action of the
Transfiguration on Mt. Thabor: “He (Jesus)
therefore leaves the rest of the disciples in the
plain near Nazareth, and goes in company with
the three privileged ones towards a high hill
called Thabor.... No sooner has He reached the
summit of the mountain, than the three apostles
observe a sudden change come over Him; His
Face shines as the sun, and His humble garments
become white as snow. They observe two
venerable men approach and speak with Him
upon what He is about to suffer in Jerusalem.
One is Moses, the lawgiver; the other is Elias, the
prophet, who was taken up from the earth on a
fiery chariot without having passed through the
gates of death. These two great representatives
of the Jewish religion, the Law and the Prophets,
humbly adore Jesus of Nazareth. The three
apostles are not only dazzled by the brightness
which comes from their divine Master; but they
are filled with such a rapture of delight, that
they cannot bear the thought of leaving the
place. Peter proposes to remain there forever
and build three tabernacles, for Jesus, Moses
and Elias. And while they are admiring the
glorious sight, and gazing on the beauty of their
Jesus’ human Nature, a bright cloud
overshadows them, and a voice is heard speaking
to them: it is the voice of the eternal Father,
proclaiming the Divinity of Jesus, and saying:
‘This is My beloved Son!’
“This transfiguration of the Son of Man,
this manifestation of His glory, lasted but a few
moments: His mission was not on Thabor; it was
humiliation and suffering in Jerusalem.”
Gueranger, p. 187-9
Suffer for Christ
Like Jesus, we also have to carry our cross
in this life. Rather than remain joyful and glorious
on Mt. Thabor as the three apostles had desired, we
have to suffer with Jesus on Mt. Calvary. St. Paul
tells of Jesus’ great joy in carrying His cross:
“…Jesus, who for joy set before him, endured a
cross, despising shame.” Heb. 12:2 For Jesus, the
cross is not shameful or scandalous. It is His glory
for He obeys His Father and shows His great love
for us. He could have redeemed us with a prayer, a
sigh, a tear, a word…, but He preferred to suffer an
ignominious death on the cross: “Greater love than
this no one has, that one lay down his life for his
friends.” Jn. 15:13 This is why St. Teresa loved
the picture of the suffering and thorned-crown
Christ. This is why she said, “Lord, let me suffer
or die.” St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi said, “Lord,
don’t let me die, but suffer!” St. John of the
Cross wanted the favour of suffering and being
despised for Christ: “I wish to suffer and be
despised for you!” Cardinal Mercier, in the early
part of the 20th century, refused a needle to ease his
pain: “No, I will never allow this, because our
Lord did not have that when He was in His
agonizing pain.” This is the language of the saints.
Hope for heaven
St. Bede, the great English monk, in
commenting on this passage of the Gospel tells us
that Our Lord “in a loving concession allowed
Peter, James and John to enjoy for a very short
time the contemplation of the happiness that
lasts forever, so as to enable them to bear
adversity with greater fortitude.” Commentary
on St. Mark, 8:30; Mk 1,3) St. John Chrysostom
tells us that we, in time of temptation and difficulty,
should think of our heavenly glory: “(There), all is
repose, joy and delight; all serenity and calm, all
peace, splendour and light. It is not a light such
as we enjoy now, and which, compared to that is
no more than a lamp placed beside the sun…For
there, there is no night, or twilight, heat or cold,
or any change in one’s being, but a state such as
can be understood only by those who are worthy
to possess it. There, there is no old age, or
sickness, or anything allied to corruption,
because it is the place and the home of immortal
glory.
And above all this the everlasting
presence and possession of Christ, of the
angels…everyone perpetually of like mind,
without any fear of Satan or the snares of the
devil or the threats of hell or death.” (Epistle to
Theodore, 11)
“…regaining lost joy...”
If we want to regain some of the lost joy that
we should have in this world when we think of our
heavenly home then we need to make a good
confession of ours sins. Pope John Paul in his
Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliation and
Penance, (2 December, 1984, 31, III) tells us that
every contrite confession is “a drawing near to the
holiness of God, a rediscovery of one’s true
identity, which has been upset and disturbed by
sin, a liberation in the very depths of one’s self
and thus a regaining of lost joy, the joy of being
saved, which the majority of people in our time
are no longer capable of experiencing.”
“Could you not, then, watch one hour with
Me?” Mt. 26:40
St. Thomas Aquinas tells us how very
special the Holy Eucharist is: “O precious
wonderful banquet that brings us salvation and
contains all sweetness......No other sacrament has
greater healing power; through it, sins are
purged away, virtues are increased and the soul
is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual
gift.” “Could you not, then, watch one hour
with Me?” Mt. 26:40
Why the Rosary is so important!
“Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”
Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia
“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every
day be led astray. This is a statement that I
would gladly sign with my blood.”
Saint Louis de Montfort
“You shall obtain all you ask of me by the
recitation of the Rosary.”
Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche
“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will
conquer the world.” Pope Blessed Pius IX
“If you persevere in reciting the Rosary, this will
be a most probable sign of your eternal
salvation.” Blessed Alan de la Roche
“The greatest method of praying is to pray the
Rosary.” Saint Francis de Sales
“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives
Jesus and Mary more glory and is more
meritorious than any other prayer.”
Saint Louis de Montfort
“If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do
assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your
sins, ‘you will receive a never-fading crown of
glory’ (1 St. Peter 5:4).” Saint Louis de Montfort