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Second Sunday of Lent

What comparison can we make for the Transfiguration? Is it like posing for your graduation or for your wedding portrait? If you have pimples, the photographer will cover it up. If you have less hair, the computer can add some more at the top. If you are dark-skinned, the final product can give you fair complexion and rosy cheeks! When you hang your picture on the wall, you will see a different you – a transfigured you!

The Transfiguration of Jesus on Mt. Tabor was a vital experience in his life and it has far-reaching consequences for our spiritual life as well. Jesus went up the mountain, not alone, but with his apostles Peter, James and John. Today, he goes up again, this time bringing all of us to witness the event and appreciate its meaning.

What does the Transfiguration mean? If we look into its theology, we will see that the Transfiguration confirms the identity of Jesus. The brilliance of Jesus before the Father shows that Jesus is totally one with the Father himself, and thus, Jesus is God’s own Divine Son. This event also forecasts the Resurrection, the vindication of Jesus after his crucifixion and death – again a sign of his divinity.

But on a practical level, the Transfiguration was an experience of joy. Jesus was filled with joy. This showed in his glowing face, his dazzling clothes. He was absorbed in a personal conversation with the Father who claims him: This is my Son; listen to him. Jesus was one too, with the Holy Spirit who is symbolized by the cloud.

Thus, the Transfiguration is an invitation for us to witness and share the joy of Jesus. One day, we will be transformed, transfigured. Even in the present, sharing in the sacraments and listening to the Word of God, we can already experience something of what Jesus relished on top of the mountain.

The Transfiguration of Jesus can be our experience now. As Christians, we are invested with dignity and splendor from our birth. In baptism we have been made temples of the Holy Spirit. God deals with us not as slaves but as children truly loved.

The problem is, we fail to appreciate our self-worth because we continue to disfigure ourselves. We forget the beauty and dignity of our bodies. We indulge in weaknesses and fixate our minds on our bad habits and attitudes. We grow attached to bodily pleasures and we descend to the arena of “animality.”

In Lent, we are reminded that we can still regain the effects of Jesus’ Transfiguration because it is our destiny too. That is why Lent asks us to train our bodies to receive a transfiguration again – through prayer, fasting and charity. The body is beautiful, but it has been disfigured. Now is the time to re-create it in the image of Jesus.

How do we remain faithful to the message of the gospel? By being faithful to the disciplines of Lent. Above all, by praying. Jesus went up the mountain, not to be transfigured (which came only as a result), but to pray! Every person who earnestly desires to pray makes himself like Jesus in his readiness to receive the strength and light that comes from the Father.

The Transfiguration experience is an invitation for all. May it truly be ours this Lent. May we also hear the Father addressing us with the very words he addressed the Lord Jesus Christ: “This is my chosen one…”