Mountain top experience

5 March 2023 2nd Sunday Lent, Year A

In just a few weeks’ time we will hear the shocking accounts of Jesus’ arrest, his torture, his passion and his death on a cross. But today, early in our Lenten journey, we recall one of the moments in his life when his divine identity is revealed to his closest disciples.


There, up a high mountain, before Peter, James and John, Jesus was transfigured. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. Moses and Elijah also appeared, conversing with Jesus.


What an amazing sight for those three disciples: Jesus in his dazzling glory. It is a moment of sheer ecstasy. No wonder they wanted to stay in that moment forever. Peter exclaims: “Lord, it is good that we are here.” Wanting to stay there, he suggests building three tents, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.


But a voice from heaven speaks, as at Jesus’ baptism at the start of his public ministry: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”


It is a gentle but firm correction for Peter! There was to be no staying there; rather there is a mission to accomplish. Listen to him! Jesus, his identity as Son of God now so clearly revealed to them, is destined to suffer and die. How Peter struggled to listen and to hear that the Messiah would suffer.


The Church always recounts this story of the transfiguration on the second Sunday of Lent. This year we hear Matthew’s account. As for the disciples, the transfiguration reminds us of who Jesus really is. He is the Son of God, truly and fully divine. He is God with us. We are to remember this when he is tortured and crucified, all for our sake and for our salvation.


We too will have the occasional mountain-top experiences in our lives, those precious moments when we are our very best selves and life is blissful. However, just as surely, suffering and hardship will also come our way, as it did for Jesus. But the message that resounds through the gospels, and especially in the Easter liturgies, is that God works in and through suffering. Suffering is no aberration or obstacle on our journey to the fullness of life and to the glory that is promised to us. So it was for Jesus. His resurrection is not just as a moment of triumph “after” his suffering and quite separate from it, but a mystery born in and of his suffering. So too for us.


So let us live each day in faith, hope and love, with courage and trust that God does not desert us, but is truly and steadfastly with us, through hard times and good. As The Letter to Timothy reminds us today: “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”


Anne Hunt

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