I’ve been enjoying this glorious sun this past couple of days. It’s a dramatic ray of hope in the middle of winter! Sometimes you need a few months of darkness and grey skies to appreciate the sun. Sometimes the context of a trial can lead you to a new level of hope. This pandemic has weighed heavily on our country and our world, and a ray of light in the middle of this pandemic is certainly welcome.This glorious sunshine can help us to contemplate today’s gospel of the transfiguration. It’s a gospel that sheds a glorious light into dark times. It was a ray of light and hope for the disciples; the Church gives us this gospel to bring light and hope into our period of Lent.
This year, let’s open our hearts so it brings light and hope into this pandemic.The Transfiguration was the revelation for the disciples of Jesus’ divinity. Jesus revealed his glory, the Father testified to his Son, to show the disciples that Jesus was God and that at the deepest level he was invulnerable to everything that was going to happen to him in Jerusalem, in Holy Week. It was telling Peter, James and John – the same who would witness Jesus’ hour of greatest vulnerability, in the garden of Gethsemane – that at the deepest level Jesus was unmovable, that the terrifying waves of the passion would break against the rock of his divine love. That although the devil would throw everything at him to try to make him stumble and sin, to shake his determination to love, this attack would fail. As it says in Psalm 32, “The floods of water may reach high, but him they shall not reach.” The disciples needed to know this and we need to know this. There was never any chance that he would fail them – nor that he will fail us. Christ is our rock. However gloomy the sky seems, however dark our lives get, above them the sun is shining. Christ shines with a divine determination to love us, and nothing can touch that. The devil’s attempt to shake Jesus’ love in the passion wasn’t only doomed to failure; even worse than that (from the devil’s point of view!) the cross manifested Jesus’ love even more. At the cross, Jesus’ love was not just the sun behind the clouds, it was like those rays of light that pierce the clouds and are so beautiful. The cross was the greatest revelation of divine glory, all the heaping up of hatred and spite upon Jesus only served to show the power of his love.
This is the light that burst forth on the first day of the week, the light of Easter, the light of invincible love. The transfiguration is not just the light of Jesus’ divinity, it is the light of his resurrection.The powerful light of Jesus’ invincible love shone through in his cross, and it can shine through in our trials too. Look at Abraham, on his darkest day, in the first reading. On that day his love for God shone through in an incredible way – “Now I know that you fear God. You have not refused me your only son.” Without this mysterious trial, Abraham would never have discovered the power of God’s love within him. These hours of greatest darkness are the times when God wants to shed the light of his love in our hearts through faith. That is true, whatever our trials; it is true of this pandemic. At this time when many of our usual joys are taken away, we can enter by faith into this innermost, invincible joy, the joy of being loved by an invincible love.Every year, Lent serves to lead us into that inner realisation. Through little sacrifices, we take away some of usual joys. The aim of this is to enter into that innermost joy, the invincible joy of Christ’s victory over evil. Let our Lent this year be transfigured. Let the weight of this trial (which is heavier for some than for others) be the occasion for us to discover the strength of Christ who carries it with us and in us.
– Br Philip-Thomas.