This weekend we will observe the second Sunday of Lent. And the gospel at Mass will be that of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, when he appeared in dazzling glory, flanked by Moses and Elijah, the greatest lawgiver and prophet of the Old Testament. And then, to add even more to the powerful, beautiful scene, the voice of God the Father rings out over the mountaintop: this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; listen to him.
Stop now and think of the contrast in the mind of Saints Peter, James, and John. They were chosen to witness the Transfiguration. They were also chosen to see Our Divine Lord in the agony in the garden, prostrate on the ground, sweating blood, and begging the Father: if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me! And then there was the unspeakable horror of the passion and death of their beloved Lord. Saint Peter saw Jesus as a captive, being led to his trial. And he denied under oath even knowing him. Saint James was nowhere to be found during those terrible hours. Only Saint John was courageous enough to stand at the foot of the cross with Our Lady and some other holy women to keep watch as Jesus died.
During those awful hours, those three must have thought back to the moment of the Transfiguration. Was it possible that this was the same man: the beautiful, radiant Christ of Mount Tabor and this pathetic figure, beaten, disfigured, crowned with thorns, bleeding from every part of his body, stripped naked or nearly so, gasping for breath, and hanging in unimaginable pain on the cross? It was a long way from Mount Tabor to Mount Calvary. As we make our way through the holy season of Lent, let us always remember, too, that the same Jesus who is so radiant on Easter Sunday morning was, on Good Friday, as the prophet Isaiah said of him, “A worm, and no man.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago