“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45)
In our first reading today, Abraham demands certainty from God: “How am I to know that I shall possess it?” Abraham needed something he could hold on to as an assurance that God would fulfil His Promise. A similar thing takes place in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain and was transfigured before them to boost their faith and certainty that Christ would rise from the dead.
As we proceed with our Lenten observances, it is easy for us to become carried away by the sorrowful side of the cross that we forget what lies beyond it. Hence, by reflecting on the Transfiguration today, God is saying to us: “Do not be discouraged, after the Cross comes the Crown of Glory.”
There are many lessons we can take home today:
One: Heaven is Worth Every Sacrifice
When Peter exclaimed: “It is wonderful to be here,” he simply summarized what heaven will be like. When we reach that state of the beatific vision, when we get to behold God face to face, we get to receive our crowns and join the choirs of angels singing Halleluiahs, we too shall say: It is wonderful to be here. Peter immediately thought about building tents, because he did not want to leave. I bet you, no one who has had a glimpse of heaven would love to return here.
Two: Jesus is the Fulfilment of the Law and Prophets
The two characters present at the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah offer us deeper insight into the Messianic Role of Jesus. While Moses represents the Law, Elijah represents all the prophets. Everything contained in the entire Old Testament finds its ultimate fulfilment in Jesus. Jesus is truly the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the World, the one whom God sent to deliver mankind from death and destruction.
Luke further adds that Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about His exodus which He was to fulfil in Jerusalem. This means that just as Abraham needed some assurance, Jesus needed assurance. When we face trials and tribulations, God never leaves us in the dark.
Three: Every Prayer is a Transfiguration
It is important to note that the transfiguration occurred within the context of prayer. As Luke puts it, “Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance changed…” Prayer is powerful. Prayer brings heaven to earth and takes us up to heaven. A lot of things happen when we pray some of which we cannot even withstand with our ordinary eyes.
Are you finding it difficult to pray? Take some time to meditate on the Transfiguration and tell yourself and each time to go on your knees to pray, God and all his Angels gather around you. Think of your favourite Saint being present right there with you.
Four: God Speaks to us when we Pray
Still, in the context of Jesus’ prayer, we hear a voice from the cloud “This is my Son, my Chosen; Listen to Him!” A similar thing happened in the Baptism of Jesus. As Jesus rose from the water and was praying, the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22). Prayer is a dialogue, it is only complete when we can listen and hear from God after we have spoken to Him.
Prayer teaches us obedience. God says: “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to Him.” The more prayerful we become, the more we are most likely enabled to obey the commandments of God. The more we pray, we more we long to listen to Jesus by reading the Bible. The more we pray, the more we grow deeper in our walk with God.
Five: To be Earthly Minded is to be God’s Enemy
In our second reading today, St. Paul warns us about people who “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ, their end is destruction, their god is the belly, their glory in their shame, their minds set on earthly things.” Indeed, among the Christian community, some people were already preaching the Gospel of prosperity and living as if this world is all there is.
The greatest scandal Christianity faces today come from men and women of God whose lavish lifestyles betray the Cross of Christ. There even seems to be a competition among these ministers with regards to worldly riches meanwhile 90 per cent of their flock are living in totally impoverished conditions. Many are now of the suggestion that churches, especially in Africa, should be closed down since they have failed to add moral value to the society but have rather become business centres for their founders and general overseers.
Conclusion: Our Hope is in Heaven not here on Earth
In the words of St. Paul “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18). “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of men those things that God has prepared for those who love him” (I Cor. 2:9).
The fact that things are not working out for you right now should not make you look back. The fact that people are laughing at you now should not make you drop the cross. After the Cross, comes the Glory.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my eyes as I pray daily to see the glory that awaits me in heaven. Amen.
Bible Study: Gen. 15:5-12,17-18, Ps. 27:1,7-9,13-14, Phil. 3:17-4:1, Luke 9:28-36).