Reflection for the Vigil of the Second Sunday of Lent (Cycle B)
by Barbara Ann Mayer, OSB
Readings: 2 Cor. 4:5-15; Mark 9:2-10
The illustration of the Transfiguration in the St. John's Bible is striking in its illumination of the figure of Christ. He appears to be bursting through walls, fully alive and radiant. Jesus seems to be showing Peter, James and John, what it means to be transformed. He wants them to know that life on the periphery, life in the darkness, life blocked by sadness and sin is not the kind of life he wants for them. He wants them to be on fire with the Spirit, overflowing with goodness and compassion, filled with an inner peace and joy. As Msgr. John McIlhon says in Give us this Day, the Transfiguration "was God’s invitation to see momentarily with their eyes what the kingdom of heaven on earth can be like for all who choose to believe in the transformation of humanity through faith."
We, too, receive this invitation. Maybe not as spectacularly as the apostles, but through faith just as real. The fleeting glimpses of God’s presence in our lives in nature, in prayer, in music, in the kindness of others--times that fill us with awe--ought to be cherished and recalled frequently. I’m sure the three apostles remembered this occasion often.
God knows it isn't easy when you leave the mountaintop and go back to the everyday world, but this glimpse of what being fully alive looks like, makes us long for it, never to be satisfied with half-living. This vision of Jesus' glory is an invitation to follow his path of wholeness, of holiness. No wonder Peter wants to stay there permanently.
The transfiguration of Jesus makes us yearn to be more than we are, to encourage others to the greatness for which they were created. Jesus is telling us that we too can be transformed, we too are called to glory. We don’t do this alone. We enable each other through our acts of forgiveness and reconciliation, through our expressions of gratitude, through our life-giving words.
We know how contagious negativity can be. It spreads like wildfire. So also do positive vibes. I remember Sister Madonna Gamper, one of our deceased sisters, who greeted each person with a warmth and smile that made one feel important. And Sister Lillian Harrington who could light up a room with her zest for life. And Sister Loretta Schirmer who found joy in serving her sisters even into her 80s. We all believe that everyone has a place at the table in God’s kingdom, but sometimes we don’t take the time to show it. When we do, we can be instruments of grace for each other.
As we reflect on the Transfiguration of Jesus, we pray for our own transformation. We can’t stay on the mountaintop, but we can take that experience of being bathed in God’s splendor to give us courage to continue the journey, to become more transfigured into his likeness each day, to form a community of loving servants.